High temperatures and humidity can lead to difficulties for diabetics. This is because they are at increased risk of blood sugar levels rising (hyperglycemia) or falling (hypoglycemia), dehydration, heat exhaustion and foot problems.
The worst comes when diabetics get trapped in a vicious cycle where heat makes them sweat profusely and dehydrate them. This increases the blood glucose levels that may cause frequent urination and more dehydration. Moreover, if a diabetic is on insulin, dehydration reduces blood supply to the skin which may lead to less absorption of insulin.
Problems get added up when the diabetic supplies are also not properly managed in heat. This is because supplies like insulin, medications and testing equipments get damaged and become ineffective in extreme heat.
So, with summers sweeping in and reaching its peek, diabetics need to be more careful in managing their blood sugar levels. Let?s see how!
Managing diabetes during?summers
Following these simple tips can help you keep your diabetes under control when the temperature soars:
1.?Drink lots of fluids
Blood sugar levels can spike up easily if you are not properly hydrated. This is because, blood glucose becomes more concentrated due to reduced blood flow through the kidneys. This makes it difficult for the kidneys to remove excess glucose from urine. So, drink plenty of fluids.
Though, plain water is the best choice, you may also consider having sugar free lemonade or herbal tea as an additional alternative. Sports drinks can also be effective, but watch out their sugar content. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks as they can have dehydrating effect.
2. Adjust insulin dosage
Incase of frequent highs and lows in blood sugar during summers, you should consider re-fixing your insulin dosage after consultation with your physician.
3. Protect from sunburns
Sunburn can stress your body and raise blood sugar levels. Hence, apply sunscreen and wear protective wears like hat, sunglasses when outdoors.
4. Prepare yourself well to treat low blood sugar
Heat can cause the body?s blood vessels to expand, which in turn can speed up insulin absorption and lead to hypoglycemia. So, keep your fast snacks ready and accessible.
5. Test your blood sugar more frequently
This will protect you from frequent episodes of low blood sugar and guide you to adjust your insulin and diet before a diabetic emergency hits you. It may be appropriate to check blood glucose levels atleast four times a day or more if not feeling well.
6. Protect your diabetic supplies from heat
Heat can affect your diabetes medications, break down insulin, damage glucose meter and diabetes test strips. Hence, keep your supplies protected from heat. You may use insulated bags or protect with ice?packs to safely store your supplies. But, avoid freezing.
Similarly, insulin pump users may consider providing some insulation to their pump by using protective pouch with a small, cold gel pack placed inside the pouch as a way to protect insulin from the effects of heat.
7. Change your exercise?time
No doubt that exercise is an important part of diabetes management and blood sugar control. But, it is advisable to plan out your strenuous activity in the early or later hours of the day when the temperatures are cooler and the sun is not at its peak. Exercising?in air-conditioning may also be considered.
8. Check you footwear
Summer shoes such as sandals or flip-flops make you more prone to foot injuries. To protect your feet, always wear shoes that cover your feet well and never walk barefoot. Also, make sure your feet are dry as they might get sweaty in heat. Moisture in foot can cause infections.
9. Look out for signs of heat exhaustion
With diabetes, your risk for heat exhaustion is greater, because diabetes can affect the ability to sweat.
So, be watchful about symptoms like: dizziness, fainting, confusion, cold and clammy skin, rapid heartbeat and excessive sweating.
10. Keep yourself as cool as possible
Wear light-colored, lightweight clothes made of fabrics that can ?breathe? and stay out of direct sun.
There is no reason why hot weather cannot be a favorable season for diabetic. One just needs to follow few precautions to enjoy summers without any worries.
Have a pleasant summer!