Can diabetes cause excessive sweating?

We all end up sweating after working out or exposure to heat. But diabetics may have some sweating problems. Here's how diabetes and sweating are connected.
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Diabetes and sweating are connected. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 16 Jan 2024, 14:30 pm IST
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If you are living with diabetes, you know it can affect your body in many ways – from the eyes and feet to hair, heart and skin. Some diabetics may even experience excessive sweating or insufficient sweating. There are many reasons why people sweat, and diabetes can be one of the reasons. Irregular sweating patterns are often linked to diabetes, which is a chronic disease occurring either when the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin or when the body can’t use the insulin it produces in an effective manner. We tell you how diabetes and sweating are connected and ways to manage perspiration problems.

What is sweating?

Sweating or perspiration is a natural physiological process through which the body regulates its temperature. It is primarily controlled by the autonomic nervous system, specifically the sympathetic nervous system. Sweat is produced by sweat glands distributed across the skin and is composed of water, electrolytes, and trace amounts of waste products, explains endocrinology expert Dr Dheeraj Kapoor.

Woman using a hand fan
Sweating can be due to many reasons. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the causes of sweating?

There are different types of sweating and so are their causes.

1. Thermoregulatory sweating

This is the most common type of sweating and it occurs in response to an increase in body temperature. It happens during physical activity or exposure to heat.

2. Emotional sweating

Emotional stress, anxiety, or nervousness can trigger sweating, the expert tells Health Shots. The sweat produced in these situations is often more profuse and can be localised, especially in the palms, soles and underarms.

3. Night sweats

Sweating during sleep, known as night sweats, can be caused by various factors. These factors include hormonal changes or infections.

4. Secondary hyperhidrosis

Excessive sweating unrelated to temperature or emotional triggers may be a result of an underlying medical condition. That includes diabetes.

Link between diabetes and sweating

There can be sweating issues due to diabetes. Here’s the connection between the two:

1. Hypoglycemia-related sweating

Low blood sugar levels, common in diabetes, can trigger profuse sweating. The body perceives low glucose as a threat, leading to activation of the sympathetic nervous system and subsequent sweating, says Dr Kapoor.

2. Neuropathy-induced sweating

Diabetic neuropathy, a complication of diabetes affecting the nerves, can disrupt the normal functioning of sweat glands. This may result in either increased or decreased sweating, depending on the type and location of nerve damage.

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3. Autonomic neuropathy

This is due to the damage to the autonomic nerves that control involuntary bodily functions including sweating. It can lead to irregular or unpredictable sweating patterns in diabetics.

4. Infections and skin conditions

People with diabetes are more prone to skin infections, says the expert. Fungal infections, for example, can cause itching and increased sweating in the affected areas.

5. Diabetes and night sweats

Night sweats often happen due to low blood glucose, which can occur in people with diabetes. When the blood glucose drops down, it produces excess adrenaline, causing sweating.

Woman on bed with a fan
Keep yourself cool to manage sweating issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the ways to manage sweating issues due to diabetes?

You can take steps to manage sweating problems if you are diabetic.

1. Maintain blood sugar levels

Keeping blood glucose levels within the target range is essential, says the expert. Regular monitoring, adherence to prescribed medications, and a healthy lifestyle contribute to better blood sugar control.

2. Address neuropathy

Managing diabetic neuropathy involves medications to alleviate symptoms, lifestyle modifications, and maintaining optimal blood glucose levels. Consultation with a doctor is crucial to address neuropathy.

3. Topical antiperspirants

Over-the-counter antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride can be applied to areas experiencing excessive sweating. This can help control localised sweating.

4. Botox injections

In severe cases, Botox injections can be given to temporarily block nerve signals responsible for excessive sweating. This is often used for focal hyperhidrosis.

5. Cooling measures

You can wear breathable fabrics, stay hydrated and use fans or cooling devices. These can help manage thermoregulatory sweating.

6. Foot care

If you are experiencing neuropathy-related foot sweating, proper foot hygiene and moisture control are crucial. These will help to prevent infections.

7. Home remedies

You can soak your feet in a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar to help control foot sweating. Applying baking soda to sweaty areas or using it in shoes can help absorb moisture, says Dr Kapoor.

Diabetics with severe sweating issues, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as changes in blood sugar levels or signs of infection, should promptly consult their endocrinologist. Early intervention can help identify and address the underlying causes, optimising diabetes management and improving overall quality of life.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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