Experiencing tingling after eating sugar is cause for concern. This is different from the sugar rush symptoms you get from sweet foods and may mean you have fructose intolerance, milk sugar malabsorption, poorly controlled blood glucose or another issue.
If you're experiencing a tingling sensation, cease eating sugary foods, keep a food diary and see your health care provider for an assessment.
Milk Sugar Reaction
If you have a reaction after eating foods containing cow's milk, you may have galactosemia. This is when your body lacks the necessary enzyme to break down a component of milk sugar called galactose. Because you're unable to metabolize galactose, this sugar builds up in your body and can cause harm to your organs. Depending on the amount you eat, the reaction may be mild or severe. If you experience symptoms such as tingling, avoid all milk products, which include yogurt, ice cream and cheese, and seek medical attention.
Galactosemia isn't the same as lactose intolerance. If you're lactose intolerant your digestive system lacks the enzyme needed to breakdown the lactose (a disaccharide) into glucose and galactose. Gas, abdominal pain and diarrhea are the common symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Intolerance to Fruit Sugar
When you have fructose intolerance, your body fails to make the enzyme needed to break down fruit sugar. This causes a byproduct of fructose to build up in your body and block your ability to convert stored glucose to energy. The result is your blood sugar drops below normal, and you have symptoms of hypoglycemia. If you have tingling sensations after eating fructose, avoid it until you can see your doctor. Steer clear of table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and fruits that have a rich fructose content, such as peaches, cherries, pears, apples, plums and their juices.
Other Types of Sugars
It's possible to have a reaction to any type of sugar if you lack the needed enzyme to break it down. Keep a food diary and record the foods you eat each day. Take notice of any symptoms that develop in relation to your eating habits. Common types of sugar include maltose, amylose, fructan, galactan, mannose, dextrose and amylopectin. Ask your doctor for a carbohydrate malabsorption test. It helps detect intolerance to various sugars.
Read more: 15 Reasons to Kick Sugar
Poorly Controlled Blood Sugar
If you have diabetes, it's crucial that you don't ignore signs such as tingling after eating sugar, which may mean that your blood sugar is too high. Excess sugar in your bloodstream damages vessels that your nerves rely on for nutrients. This can cause tingling, numbness and burning sensations in different parts of the body. Nerve damage is a serious complication of diabetes that can progress to loss of feeling.
Avoid sugary foods to help keep your glucose levels under control, and follow a diabetes meal plan. This involves controlling the amount of carbohydrates you eat at each meal and staying within a daily goal range. Consult your doctor immediately to determine the best approach to getting your blood sugar under control.
- Merck Manual: "Disorders of Carbohydrate Metabolism"
- University of Virginia Digestive Health Center: "Low Fructose Diet"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Diabetic Neuropathy"
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Definition and Facts of Lactose Intolerance"
- Genetics Home Reference: "Galactosemia"
- Mayo Clinic: "Fructose Intolerance: Which Foods to Avoid?"