The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-08-2008, 09:49 AM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 23,446
Why does stress cause my blood sugar to drop? What's the mechanism?

No, I'm not asking for medical advice. I'm under a doctor's care and the problem is under control; I'm simply curious.

I have type-2 diabetes, managed by diet, exercise, medication, and periodically ripping out the throats of people who eat cheesecake in front of me. Also rice pudding. And root beer floats. Anyway, I generally have good control: almost always <110 in the mornings, and not over 150 any day this year. Having nearly died twice because of it has put the fear of God in me.

Anywhistle...I've noticed that emotionally stressful events cause cause me to go hypoglycemic. This is weird, because the usual reaction, as I understand it, is for stress to cause the blood sugar to increase. But not me. The day of my mother's funeral I went low (<60) three separate times. At the time, one of my cousins, a nurse, speculated that because I was so upset I had simply forgotten to eat--but I'm very careful about watching my meals, and I simply don't believe it. On the day of my aunt's funeral a few months back I also went low, though I'd planned my caloric intake very carefully that day, and both Mrs. Rhymer and Baby Sister Rhymer were watching me like a hawk. I've had similar experiences on any especially stressful day. A diet/exercise/glyberide routine that works fine for me on an ordinary day winds up leaving me with my blood sugar in my socks on a stressful one.

Anybody have an explanation?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 07-08-2008, 11:51 AM
Anaglyph Anaglyph is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
The stress hormone adrenaline plays a role in blood sugar regulation. In order to provide energy for a flight-or fight reaction, it promotes glycogen breakdown in the liver, breakdown of triglycerides (fat) in the adipose cells, promotes the release of glucagon and decreases the release of insulin. This alone would increase blood sugar. However, adrenalin also increases the metabolic rate, and you therefore use more glucose to power your metabolism, and this of course lowers your blood glucose.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-09-2008, 09:21 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
Out of the slimy mud of words
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 6,594
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaglyph
The stress hormone adrenaline plays a role in blood sugar regulation. In order to provide energy for a flight-or fight reaction, it promotes glycogen breakdown in the liver, breakdown of triglycerides (fat) in the adipose cells, promotes the release of glucagon and decreases the release of insulin. This alone would increase blood sugar. However, adrenalin also increases the metabolic rate, and you therefore use more glucose to power your metabolism, and this of course lowers your blood glucose.
Are you really suggesting that adrenaline lowers the blood glucose level? Cause that ain't so. Indeed, as you noted, adrenalin is responsible for raising the glucose levels in certain situations. It also prevents the glucose level from falling during periods of fasting.

In normal individuals, during hypoglycemia, adrenaline is predictably released. As a result, blood glucose levels will rise. Obviously, this (release of adrenaline and raising of the glucose level) would not happen if adrenaline led to lowering of glucose levels.

Adrenaline does not lower the glucose level.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-09-2008, 12:18 PM
bufftabby bufftabby is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
I'm pretty interested in this question, Skald. I've got reactive hypoglycemia, and stress can make me pass right out. This can cause some serious issues while driving. I know I could potentially faint, so I get stressed, so my blood sugar gets lower, so I start to feel faint, so I get stressed...et cetera, ad infinitum. It's, um, stressful.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:59 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.