Summer heat can add to the problems faced by people living with type 2 diabetes. And while most people with diabetes are aware that extreme heat poses a danger, they may not always know when to take precautions. Elderly people are at particular risk, but people of all ages with diabetes should be aware of summertime dangers. These include dehydration, heat exhaustion, and foot problems.
DIABETES AND DEHYDRATION
Everyone, regardless of their health status, should make sure they drink enough fluids during the summer. People with type 2 diabetes, however, face an additional challenge because when their blood sugar levels are too high, they may be passing more urine than usual — which means they are losing fluids more quickly.
If you are out and about on a hot summer day, make sure you have enough of these beverages in hand to stay hydrated:
- Sugar-free lemonade or other drinks
Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks are usually okay in moderation — but too much of either one can cause you to lose more fluids. And remember to bring along snacks in case your blood sugar drops.
DIABETES AND FOOT HEALTH
Proper foot care is important for people with diabetes. In the heat, your feet can get sweaty making your socks wet. Make sure your feet are dry and protected when you are outdoors — either with sunscreen or shoes that provide coverage. Check for sores daily.
DIABETES AND HEAT EXHAUSTION
If you're going to be outside, be alert to these symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- Fainting or near-fainting
- Excess sweating
- Muscle cramping
- Cold/ clammy skin
- Rapid heartbeat
During heat waves and periods of high heat, find air-conditioned places to stay.
DAMAGED DIABETES SUPPLIES
Heat can affect your diabetes supplies too. Insulin is particularly vulnerable, but all medications, glucose meters, and testing strips should be kept in a cool, dry place.
Never leave insulin or other medications in hot cars, direct sunlight, or other extremely hot situations. Use a cooler or insulated lunch bag to keep items cool. Testing strips, meters, and pumps should be kept dry and away from extreme heat. Exposure to intense heat may make them unreliable for later use.
HOW TO COPE WITH SUMMER HEAT
Exercise in a cool place: Staying active is an important part of managing type 2 diabetes. So in the summer months, plan your workout for a location or time of day that is cool, such as:
- Early morning
- Indoors, with air-conditioning or fans
- Water based like swimming
- Check blood glucose levels often: Aim for checking four times each day and before you drive.