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Diabetes & Sweating Issues

By Matthew Busse ; Updated August 14, 2017

Diabetes is a chronic disease resulting from the inability of the body to correctly regulate the levels of glucose in the blood, or blood sugar levels. People with diabetes may experience symptoms in almost any organ of the body, because blood flows through the entire body. Symptoms of diabetes include various issues concerning sweating and heat regulation.

Hypoglycemia and Sweating

Although diabetes is a disease caused by high levels of blood sugar, called hyperglycemia, patients with diabetes occasionally experience the opposite problem of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar in diabetic patients is most often caused by medicines used to treat high blood sugar, but sometimes they work too well and cause blood sugar to drop to unhealthy levels. When people with diabetes experience a dip in blood sugar, the body releases epinephrine, also called adrenaline, in an attempt to raise blood sugar. In addition to the symptoms of shakiness and anxiety, epinephrine also causes the body to start sweating profusely, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse explains.

Inability to Sweat

One frequent effect of diabetes is damage to the nerves connecting the brain to the rest of the body, which is called diabetic neuropathy. If the nerves that control sweat glands are damaged, they may not be able to activate the sweat glands and produce sweat. This inability to sweat is called anhidrosis. One study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that 94 percent of patients with diabetic neuropathy had abnormalities in sweating. People who cannot sweat often have trouble regulating their body temperature, because sweat helps the body to cool down. As a result, diabetic patients with anhidrosis may easily become overheated in warm temperatures or after physical exertion.

Excess Sweating

Some patients with diabetic neuropathy actually experience the opposite effect when the nerves that control the sweat glands are damaged; they sweat too much, reports the Unveristy of Washington Department of Medicine. Diabetic neuropathy has been linked to excess sweating, particular at night or while eating. Some patients may wake up in the middle of the night because their sheets are drenched in sweat, which is sometimes referred to as soaking night sweats.

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