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Numbness in right index finger
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Numbness in right index finger

Hi, I'm a 35 year old Asian American male with no family history of diabetes, although some relatives have had high blood pressure/cholesterol.  Over the years I have eaten a good deal of junk foods and sugared beverages, but have primarily eaten an Asian diet (white rice, vegetables, light meat).  

My BMI is 23.6 and for the past 6 months I have been exercising regularly (walking or jogging 3-5x a week for 30+ minutes a day) and for the past 8 weeks I have eaten 1lb of raw salad every weekday (no dressing, no iceberg lettuce, just raw and uncooked tomatoes, beets, broccoli, spinach, corn, etc).  I also get much of my protein from tuna and nuts.  This is rare for me to be doing all of this and the impetus was higher cholesterol numbers:

                              4/5/11           1/27/12
Cholesterol, Total: 168               192
HDL Cholesterol:     37                 41
Triglycerides:         105               128
LDL-Cholesterol:    110               125
Chol/HDLC Ratio:   4.5                4.7

I also drink about 8-12 cups of water a day and rarely drink sugared beverages and rarely eat fried foods and red meat.  I also take a 500mg Niacin pill everyday to boost HDL.  

So my issue is that even though I am living a pretty healthy lifestyle, I still have a slight addiction to potato chips and will eat a lot in one sitting (4-5 servings).  Total guess, but I eat chips maybe 8-10 days a month.  This seems to be my biggest weakness.  The only good thing is I've been eating healthier chips.

I notice that occasionally when I eat something bad (chips, hamburger, etc) my right index finger will start to go slightly numb and go back to normal maybe 30 minutes later.  This has been going on for at least a year if not years.  Is it possible that all my years of bad eating and my current potato chip vice has caused this?  That would be horrible as I'm trying to live a very healthy lifestyle and to have something this stupid derail that is bothering me.

Please help!
Hi Asian Guy

It sounds like you are wondering if the numbness in your finger has anything to do with your diet - particularly the potato chips that you find yourself eating somewhat compulsively. You have also written out your cholesterol numbers - are you wondering if this is related to the numbness?

I cannot comment on the numbness of your index finger. I suggest that you see your family doctor or endocrinologist - who can determine if you have any symptoms of peripheral neuropathy that might be the cause of this. While potato chips can lead to weight gain, which can contribute to a higher sugar and cholesterol, I am not aware of any food that will cause numbness of the fingers.

Are you aware that Niacin may cause a tingling sensation - perhaps you are suffering the side effects of this?

Your current potato chip vice will recede if you stop eating them completely - healthy or otherwise. It only takes a few weeks and you will find the cravings will disappear. That would be the healthiest option for your cholesterol.
Hi Dr. Tarman,

Thanks for the reply.  I certainly plan to talk to my family doctor soon, but I basically wanted to do some research beforehand.  

The reason I presented my cholesterol levels and talked about my current diet and exercise regimen is to give you an idea of my general health history.  So basically I've lived a pretty healthy lifestyle for the past 4+ months.  But I also have a lifetime of spotty eating and lack of exercise which is why my cholesterol numbers have been trending upwards.  

My question is, is it possible that my years of less than ideal living have caused an issue (ie. clogging of arteries) and that when I eat something bad, like a bag of chips that it causes my finger to become numb?  

I'm just afraid that even though I've been living very healthy for most of this calendar year, that something relatively small (eating chips) could derail my health because perhaps I am at the point of no return.

Hope that makes more sense.  I will be seeing my doctor in a few weeks.


Also, thanks for letting me know about the niacin side effect.  I was unaware.  I will say though that the numbness happened almost immediately after I ate the chips and that's been a pattern in the past whether it's chips or hamburgers.  I took the niacin about 6-8 hours before the numbness happened and I've been on a daily regimen for maybe 6 months and I haven't seen a correlation in the past.

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