General Question

RedmannX5's avatar

Is it detrimental to one's health if he/she gets the shakes from not eating?

Asked by RedmannX5 (814points) May 27th, 2008 from iPhone

if a person doesn’t eat for a while and their hands start to shake, is this bad for the person?

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14 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

Like low blood sugar? Probably not bad if they don’t run that way all the time. Eat something and it goes away, right?

marinelife's avatar

Yes and no. Probably not if it happens one time. Yes if it is a patter. What you are describing is hypoglycemia. Your body needs fuel. Efficient organism that it is, if you don’t provide it, it will attack your tissue to get it, first fat and then muscle tissue.

If it happens a lot, carry juice boxes and crackers. You need the sugar and carbs.

marinelife's avatar

Almost forgot. If left untreated, you could become confused and not able to think clearly.

buster's avatar

i do that when i dont eat. my mom has diabetes so theres a good chance i will too. you got to watch your diet.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

sometimes that happens to me at work when I get really busy and I feel like I’m about to pass out and on the brink of an anxiety attack not fun at all. Possible ulser in the future?

shilolo's avatar

Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but it is nearly impossible for a normal person to become hypoglycemic. When glucose levels fall in the blood, insulin levels go down, and glucagon and epinephrine go up. The net effect is to stimulate the liver to break down glycogen (the long term storage form of glucose and also to synthesize new glucose from fat. The brain cannot survive without glucose, and so it releases neurotransmitters and hormones to tightly regulate circulating glucose.

Patients with diabetes can (and frequently do) become hypoglycemic, usually owing to not eating while taking long acting insulin (which drives sugar levels down) or long acting oral medications that also lower circulating glucose.

What you describe, “the shakes”, is most likely the effect of circulating epinephrine, which, while stimulating glycogenolysis (breakdown of glycogen) and gluconeogenesis (synthesis of new glucose from “scratch”), also cause things like palpitations and “shakes”. I should add that your reaction likely has no long term consequences. That said, you might want to have your sugar checked, just to be on the safe side.

marinelife's avatar

I am sure shilolo will disagree (as noted above), but not everyone agrees with the official AMA position.

“Blamed on ‘the sugar-laden American diet,’ hypoglycemia is estimated
by some physicians to affect over 20 million people in the United
States… The American Medical Association is among those who insist
that hypoglycemia is nearly a nonexistent condition. They believe it
to be a popular status disorder, or the ‘in’ disease of the jet-set
attributable to too much stress and heavy drinking. Still others
believe that it is a carbohydrate metabolism disorder that can be
avoided or easily controlled. Many also believe it to be the invention
of self-diagnosing health faddists and hypochondriacs.”

Women’s Health Connection

shilolo's avatar

I’d love for “womenshealthconnection” to do some experiments and show me some data. Please. Please. Please.

Marina, I love reading your posts, but I implore you not to cite groups who have their own agenda but have never touched a patient, or a pipette.

FYI, the link doesn’t exist…

shilolo's avatar

I would add that everything I said is backed not by the AMA, but by solid scientific data in biochemistry and endocrinology textbooks. Feel free to look up the biochemical, physiologic and endocrine pathways I mentioned.
And besides, I would love to hear a plausible physiologic/biochemical/endocrine explanation how a high sugar diet would lead to hypoglycemia

bulbatron9's avatar

I agree with Shilolo! Damn, he knows his shit!

@ Redman – Have you been doing any type of speed?

marinelife's avatar

I was merely attempting to point out that some people do not accept the AMA position on this. I am not making a scientific study argument. I do not have data for it.

I have seen many times people who need to eat regularly or they get shaky. Whether you call that hypoglycemia or not (And why not? If the body has to start breaking down glycogen, there is insufficient glucose in the blood.), if this happens to a person frequently, it makes sense to carry some juice or crackers and to make a habit of eating regularly.

All of that said, I bow to your professionally knowledgeable medical explanation for the condition and terminology.

shilolo's avatar

The “people who do not accept the AMA position”, i.e. Women’s Health Connection, is a front company for Women’s International Pharmacy. Thus, it appears to me like the first website uses deceptive tactics to convince women that “something is wrong” (i.e. you have hypoglycemia!!!!!), and then diverts them to the pharmacy to fill their prescriptions. Blah!

The definition of hypoglycemia is 45 mg/dl. Normal blood glucose is between 80 and 120. Few people reach that threshold under normal physiologic conditions. When the level drops below 65 mg/dl, the responses I listed (low insulin, high glucagon, high epinephrine) kick in to maintain adequate sugar levels by breaking down glycogen and fat. Thus, while the cumulative effect of these signals is to make you hungry for food, you are not technically hypoglycemic at the time. Some people might be more sensitive to epinephrine (the “fight or flight” hormone), and thus sense “something is wrong” and feel shaky and anxious.

delirium's avatar

this happens to me a lot. I just always carry chocolate in my purse for emergencies. (really great chocolate stores really well in super small places)

I don’t think that I would notice quite as much as I do if I weren’t an artist. It really fucks with drawing abilities.

breedmitch's avatar

Now that’s good fluther!

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