By Dr Pradeep Gadge, A leading Diabetologist, Gadge Diabetes Centre
Whether experiencing hot summer temperatures, or a tropical vacation, it is important for everyone to beware of the heat – and the various effects that it can have on our bodies. When it comes to diabetes, you need to be extra careful when temperatures climb dramatically. Extreme heat can affect your blood sugar control.
Extreme temperatures can also damage your medications and testing equipment. People with diabetes need to take precautions to protect themselves and their supplies during both winter and summer.
The extreme heat of summer season affects blood sugar levels, it makes an individual sweat profusely, and may become dehydrated, leading to a rise in sugar levels. It’s like a vicious cycle when you become dehydrated, your blood sugar levels will rise. This can lead to frequent urination, which then leads to further dehydration and even higher blood sugar levels.
High temperatures can have an adverse effect on medication and other diabetes management supplies too hot temperatures will cause the medications to degrade, making them ineffective and unusable.
Here are the tips to help manage your diabetes in summer.
1.Drink plenty of fluids-In the heat, people tend to get dehydrated easily. When you’re dehydrated, you have higher concentrations of blood sugar because less blood flows through your kidneys. With less blood, your kidneys don’t work as efficiently to clear out any excess blood sugar from your urine.
People with diabetes may need to increase their intake of fluids in hot weather, drinking water regularly through the day.
2. Protect medication and supplies- High summer temps can affect your diabetes medications, glucose meter, and diabetes test strips. When it’s hot out, it’s easy for insulin and other drugs to become degraded.
Carry them in a cooler with an ice pack. Don’t leave them in a hot car, by a pool, in direct sunlight, or on the beach. The same goes for supplies such as test strips.
3. Check your blood sugar levels frequently- High temperatures can change how your body uses insulin. People may need to test their blood sugar more often and adjust their insulin dose.
4. Stay out of heat- Exercise is the key in managing diabetes, but don’t get active outdoors during the hottest part of the day or when the heat index is high. Get out early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are lower.
5. Dress lightly- Like the heat, sunburn is a stress on the body. If you’re in the sun too long and your skin burns, it can affect your diabetes control. Always wear a wide-brimmed hat in the sun to keep the sun out. Wear sunscreen to protect against sunburn. Lightweight and light-colored clothing will also help you keep cool.
6. Test your blood sugars levels frequently. Since very hot temperatures can cause levels to fluctuate, it’s a good idea to test more frequently than usual. That way you can take appropriate and immediate action to keep levels more stable.
7. Go for lime water, buttermilk- Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine, like coffee and energy or sports drinks. They can lead to water loss and spike your blood sugar levels. One can have lime water (without sugar), buttermilk, or fruits like watermelon, muskmelon.
8. take care of your feet- Avoid walking barefoot, especially if you have nerve damage that reduces your ability to feel sharp objects and hot surfaces. You might hurt yourself and not realize it. Wear protective shoes. Check your feet every day for cuts and other injuries. Also look for a scaly rash on your feet and white spots between your toes, which could be athlete’s foot. Sweaty feet make you more likely to get athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. Keep your feet dry.
9. Use lotion for smooth skin- in the summer, it’s easy for the skin on your feet to dry out. Rub a thin coat of lotion on the top and bottom of your feet, but avoid putting it in between your toes. Excess moisture can lead to a fungal infection
10. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion- if you are working or exercising outdoors. People with diabetes and other chronic diseases like heart disease are more susceptible to overheating. Symptoms include: feeling dizzy or fainting; sweating excessively; muscle cramps; skin that is cold or clammy; headaches; rapid heartbeat and/or nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, move to a cooler environment, drink fluids like water.
11. Don’t forget to snack- If you are taking a medication that can cause hypoglycemia. Remember to carry quick sugar like juice, candy, glucose powder as well as some snacks in case you experience hypoglycemia.
12. Go for regular eye check-up- Most people suffering from diabetes often have a pre-existing condition like diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. With these conditions a person is prone to get a seasonal eye infection like conjunctivitis or other infections. So, every diabetic patient is recommended to their eye check-up regularly.