Summertime heat brings unique challenges to those who live with diabetes. Some suffer with heat sensitivity that must be closely watched to avoid complications. Others will need to adjust their insulin dosage to compensate for any change in activity levels that comes with warm weather. Overall, with these changes, it is a good idea for a diabetic to increase the number of glucose tests done throughout the day.
This being the case, it is also important to be aware that medications can also be adversely affected by the heat. Insulin, glucose monitors and strips, and oral medications are all at risk. Though these things are important to bring with when out in the weather for the day, packing them in a cooler is a basic necessity to avoid that risk.
Diabetics are also prone to changes in glucose levels that come with the stress of sunburn. Sunscreen and protective clothing will help to avoid this issue, as well as staying in the shade as much as possible.
Warm weather also brings the threat of dehydration, which can affect glucose levels as well as heart function. Drinking plenty of fluids can help to alleviate this issue. By the time you are thirsty, dehydration may already have begun, so it is important drink fluids regularly even when you are not thirsty. For those whose diabetic symptoms leave them feeling thirsty often, it is a good idea to drink plenty of water at regular intervals anyway. It can become difficult to discern thirst if it is something you are used to. In any case, fluids are important to help regulate glucose levels, and water is best to avoid dehydration.
Another issue related with diabetes is a decreased ability to sweat. This reduces the body’s ability to cool itself down in hot weather, and can increase the potential of dangerous heat related illnesses. A diabetic needs to be especially aware of her body when exercising, partly due to this, and also due to the fact that glucose levels will again drop with the increased activity. Glucose testing after exercise is also helpful.
Though most diabetics take all the necessary precautions, they must first be informed in order to do so. Awareness is the first step. Talk to your doctor to find out more about diabetes and summer heat.
Kathleen Doheny, Summer heat is a risk to diabetes patients, WEbMD
Nancy Klobassa, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N., Blog: Heat and Diabetes, Mayo Clinic
International Business Times, Summer Heat Dangerous for Diabetics
Harry Jackson, Jr., Diabetics must take summertime precautions, Seacoastonline.com
The author of Diabetes and Summer Heat was raised with a diabetic dad.