What does my wife's reaction to sugar mean?
January 2, 2007 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Whenever my wife eats candy like Starbust, Skittles, Big Red gum, etc. she starts perspiring and getting really hot in her face. Could this be an allergic reaction or be related to diabetes?
posted by JPigford to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
IANAD, but it sounds like an allergy, possibly to a food dye. Have a look at the ingredient lists for all the foods known to cause this effect, and see if they have any common ingredients (esp. perservatives or dyes) that might be causing the reaction.

Of course, I also suggest that she bring it up at her next doctor visit, just to make sure there's nothing serious going on. Allergic reactions sometimes get more serious/acute over time.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 10:47 AM on January 2, 2007

Anecdotal evidence: My mom has always been very hot all the time - a/c in the car year round, can't wear long sleeves at all, etc. She's also pretty heavy. She's just cut our refined sugar and white flour, and although she's not slim yet, she's not hot anymore! I was so thrilled to hear that. So it sounds pretty similar!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:49 AM on January 2, 2007

Response by poster: @Ambrosia: My wife is actually on the cold side of things most of the time and she's not overweight...so that couldn't be it.
posted by JPigford at 10:59 AM on January 2, 2007

Look at the ingredient lists of the various foods that cause this reaction for a common ingredient (such as Red Dye No. 40). It may be an allergic reaction as Sprout is saying.
posted by grouse at 11:10 AM on January 2, 2007

Wow, I also get that when I eat too much sugar. It makes me sweat right below my eyes. I've commented on it to lots of people (although not to a doctor---never thought to ask) and no one has ever heard of such a thing.

I don't think it's allergies because it happens to me with all kinds of very sugary foods, not just candy. And I just had some blood work done (unrelated) that showed normal glucose levels so I don't think it's diabetes either. I'm not overweight either.

Sorry, I don't have any helpful ideas, but you can tell your wife she's not the only one.
posted by slenderloris at 11:15 AM on January 2, 2007

How old is your wife? Is it possible she's started getting hot flashes? The candy connection might be coincidental selection bias, or the change in blood sugar may be a hot flash trigger for her.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:24 AM on January 2, 2007

i get the exact same thing, especially on my cheeks as slendorloris says, whenever i have a bit of sugar -- candy, a cupcake, &c. i always thought it was what people meant when they said "sugar rush." no?
posted by sonofslim at 11:33 AM on January 2, 2007

Response by poster: @nakedcodemonkey: She's 24.
posted by JPigford at 11:35 AM on January 2, 2007

When her face gets hot, does it also go red? Excessive sugar may be a trigger for rosacea flare-ups.

(If she's just getting hot, then it probably isn't rosacea. But if she's also flushing, that could be an early sign.)
posted by maudlin at 11:51 AM on January 2, 2007

Response by poster: @maudlin: Nope, no real physical symptoms other than feeling hot and perspiring. Definitely nothing anybody could really physically see.
posted by JPigford at 11:56 AM on January 2, 2007

It strikes me as more likely to be an issue with dyes than with the sugar, as a stick of Big Red only contains 2 grams of sugar. Unless she's chewing a whole pack in one go, this is unlikely to have a noticable effect on her blood sugar -- it's about 1/7th the amount of carbohydrates in a single slice of white bread.
posted by redfoxtail at 12:25 PM on January 2, 2007

Check the ingredients. Some flavorings and dyes can cause reactions. There's a red dye used in food that's actually something like pulverized bugs.
posted by FunkyHelix at 12:39 PM on January 2, 2007

I get something like this when I eat a lot of sugar (I've never thought it could be due to anything else) over an extended period. My normal refined sugar intake is very low, no baked sweets, no candy, no ice cream etc. Over the holidays I ate a ton of all that, and I felt this a few times. It's not a sugar buzz at all, I can only describe it like I've got too much of something in my system, salt or sugar is overwhelming me*. My face, especially my forehead and the bridge of my nose feel hot (though they're cool to the touch) and I get a tiny layer of perspiration. I can maybe see the perspiration in a mirror, no other changes to my face. I do sometimes feel like my tongue is burned along with the other feelings.

I generally wash my face with cool water, up my water intake, which also seems to have dropped off when this occurs, and cut back on the sugar. This doesn't happen to me often, and goes away or I stop noticing it in an hour or so.

*When it occurred to me recently I described it to myself as the entirely unscientific "All that sugar is pushing the water out of my body." That's just what popped into my head.
posted by Science! at 12:43 PM on January 2, 2007

Oh, sorry I have no idea how this relates to diabetes. I've never been diagnosed with it or had anything that would warranty diabetes being investigated, I hope this isn't something that would.
posted by Science! at 12:47 PM on January 2, 2007

Huh. Same thing happens to me. It's a fine layer of perspiration and heat across the bridge of my nose.

I thought most people experienced this to some degree.

I'm a 31 year old male for what it's worth.
posted by lyam at 1:20 PM on January 2, 2007

FunkyHelix is talking about Carmine.
posted by hermitosis at 2:17 PM on January 2, 2007

Funny enough, over the holidays I made a chocolate cake, and found in the evening, when I had some (while watching TV) I got very hot, which I experience mainly across the lower back of my skull. My partner had a similar reaction. No dye involved, far as I know (cocoa, dark chocolate, coffee, plus the usual cake ingredients).

I do tend to be warm in the evening, and often strip down to shorts for a brief spell on the patio before bed. Mornings I'm Chilly Willy (partner is opposite).
posted by Goofyy at 1:22 AM on January 3, 2007

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