This summer has set record high temperatures across the country. While it’s taking a toll on everyone, people with diabetes are at a special disadvantage. Therefore, it is vital that if you or someone you know have diabetes, to take extra caution over the next few months as the heat persists.
Extreme temperatures and diabetes can be a dangerous mix. Heat and moderate to high physical activity can lead to profuse sweating and dehydration and could lead to unwieldy rises in glucose levels. Individuals with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes usually feel the heat more than those who do not have diabetes. The reasons why are the following:
- Diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves, which then affects sweat glands, so the body is not able to cool as effectively. Medical emergencies such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke may follow.
- In extremely high heat, people with diabetes are more susceptible to becoming dehydrated quickly. Not taking in enough liquids can cause blood glucose levels to rise, and high blood glucose leads to more frequent urination, which causes more dehydration.
- High temperatures can affect the way your body uses insulin. This might require you to test your blood glucose more often, adjust insulin dose, and change what you eat and drink.
With or without diabetes, here are some basic tips that you can use to ensure that you enjoy the summer heat safely.
- To not get dehydrated, make sure to drink lots of water.
- Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks. They may be refreshing in the moment, but can lead to water loss and spike blood sugar levels.
- Check your blood sugar before, during, and after physical activity. There could be a change in the amount of insulin you use.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Always wear sunscreen outside. Sunburn may raise your blood sugar levels.
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings and rooms as much as possible.
Protect Your Diabetes Equipment
Although you need to take good care of yourself during the hot summer months, don’t forget that your diabetes medications, supplies, and equipment deserve the same care.
- Avoid storing insulin or oral diabetes medicine in direct sunlight or a hot car. Look at packaging information to determine how high temperatures can affect insulin or other medications.
- If you travel, keep insulin and other medicines in a cooler. However, you do not want to place insulin directly on ice or a gel pack.
- Heat has the capability of causing damage to your blood sugar monitor, insulin pump, and other diabetes equipment. Try to avoid leaving them in a hot car, by a pool, in direct sunlight, etc. Supplies such as test strips should also be handled with caution.
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