How to Manage Diabetes in Hot Weather
One of the greatest parts about summer is spending time outdoors and enjoying the long-awaited warm weather. But when it comes to the heat, there are some tips for staying healthy – especially for those with diabetes. Because diabetes is a condition that affects blood sugar levels, it’s important to be aware of the dangers associated with hot weather. Keeping active during the summer months is encouraged; however, the need for caution when outside is especially critical for those with diabetes. Being prepared is key to ensuring safety.
- Pack lots of water to stay hydrated. If you choose to drink juice, make sure to account for any sugar that may be in the drink. Try to avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine because they can increase blood sugar levels.
- Have the right kind of snacks on hand, such as hard candy or fruit juice, to help prevent low blood sugar. You can also bring along glucose gels or tablets.
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar (also called hypoglycemia). Some of these symptoms are feeling nervous, shaky, or sweaty.
- Talk with your doctor about the symptoms of hypoglycemia and make a plan for what to do if it develops.
It may be hard to remember to monitor your blood sugar; however, it’s important that this be one of the items at the top of your to-do list. Verifying levels before, during and after exercise or outdoor activities is a good habit to adopt and is critical to keeping blood sugar levels in check.
Keeping in mind the time of day you head outdoors can make it easier to enjoy your time while managing diabetes. If possible, avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day. If you choose to be outdoors, remember to wear sunscreen, protective clothing, hats and sunglasses to protect your skin, as sunburns can raise blood sugar levels.
If you plan on being outdoors for an extended period of time, ensure your insulin is stored appropriately. Temperatures that are too hot (or too cold) can be damaging, making it not work as well. Review the instructions that accompany the medication or talk with a healthcare provider about the best way to store insulin. Insulin is not the only medication that requires special attention when it comes to storage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that supplies such as glucose monitors and test strips also be stored under the right temperature, as they’re also sensitive to heat.
Play it safe this summer by having a plan for managing your diabetes both indoors and out. Ask a healthcare provider for assistance on tailoring your diet and medications to your lifestyle and how best to make any adjustments if necessary. This will help to make the summer go smoothly and your vacation more care-free.