While many people can experience difficulties with sweating, it can also be an issue for people with diabetes. There are three main types of sweating that you may experience. They are:
- hyperhidrosis: excessive sweating not caused by temperature or exercise
- gustatory sweating: caused by food and limited to face and neck areas
- night sweats: caused by low blood glucose during the night
Each of these have different types of treatments. Your doctor can recommend the best treatment to help relieve or stop your excessive sweating. However, since sweating can be a sign of other more serious conditions, you should always talk to your doctor if you experience this type of sweating.
Hyperhidrosis is the term for excessive sweating. This is sweating that is not from exercising or the temperature. This can occur when your blood glucose gets too low (hypoglycemia). It will trigger a fight or flight response from your body. You produce excess adrenaline and norepinephrine, which cause excess sweating. Once your blood sugar returns to normal, the sweating should stop.
If, along with sweating, you have bladder control problems or an unusual heart rate, it could indicate autonomic neuropathy. This is caused by damage to the nerves that control functions like the bladder, blood pressure, and sweating. Excessive sweating can also occur with obesity. Obesity often accompanies diabetes. However, these are not the only ways diabetes and excessive sweating can be connected.
Gustatory sweating is different than hyperhidrosis. It is also not unique to people with diabetes. However, people with diabetic autonomic neuropathy are more likely to experience this than those without nerve damage. Luckily, it is easy to identify. If you break a sweat when you eat or drink, you’re experiencing this condition. It can also occur just by thinking about or looking at food.
Gustatory sweating is limited to your face, scalp, and neck. It’s believed that the sweating is triggered when a stimulant hits the taste buds, as it doesn’t occur when the food hits your stomach or when you smell food.
There is no test or simple diagnosis for this condition, and your doctor will rely on your own reporting of your symptoms. If your head and neck sweat when you eat, it’s likely that you are experiencing gustatory sweating.
Night sweats are often caused by low blood glucose. However, there are many factors that could be causing the low levels. These include:
- exercising too close to bedtime
- certain types of insulin taken in the evening
- drinking alcohol in the evening
Blood glucose control is the best way to manage night sweats caused by low blood glucose. Sometimes simply adjusting your exercise time or eating a snack just before bed can help. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your diet, exercise, or insulin in the evenings in order to reduce or eliminate night sweats.
Treating excessive sweating usually requires medications. These come with side effects and varying levels of effectiveness. Many of these are pills taken by mouth, but Botox (botulinum toxin injection) has been used in some cases.
- nerve blocking medication
- prescription antiperspirant
- Botox injections
- sweat gland removal: for issues in armpits only
- electrical current: not for use if you are pregnant or have a pacemaker
- nerve surgery: only if other treatment has not helped
- wear clothing (including socks) made of natural materials
- bathe daily and use antiperspirant
- change socks often and keep your feet dry
- choose clothes that match your activity
- try relaxation techniques that may reduce stress-related sweating
Any excessive sweating could be a symptom of something serious. It could also be an indication of nerve problems. Because of this, visiting your doctor is the best advice.
You should talk to your doctor if excessive sweating is interrupting your everyday life. Also seek medical help if you start sweating more than usual, or you have night sweats for seemingly no reason.
Excessive sweating can be a sign of more serious issues, such as:
- heart attack
- some cancers
- nervous system disorder
- some infectious diseases or an overactive thyroid
You should see your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms along with excessive sweating. These may be signs of something more serious:
- temperature of 104°F or higher
- chest pain
Some other problems caused by excessive sweating include: infections, social issues, and emotional issues. People that sweat excessively are more likely to get skin infections. Excessive sweating may cause anxiety in social situations if you are worried about others noticing. It can also cause emotional issues like anxiety in social settings. Talk to your doctor if any of these complications become concerning or affect your daily life.
When to See Your Doctor
While it can occur in anyone, there are certain causes of excessive sweating that affect those with diabetes. Any time you notice you are sweating and it is not due to the temperature and you are not exercising, you should talk to your doctor. They can then determine its cause and the proper treatment for you. Your doctor will also be able to determine if it is being caused by a more serious condition.
Proper treatment is needed in order to keep excessive sweating from disrupting your normal activities or sleep.