Keeping Blood Glucose Values Winter Proof

By Dr. Ambrish Mithal in Endocrinology & Diabetes

Nov 08 , 2022 | 2 min read

As we struggle with the November pollution and brace ourselves for the harsh north Indian winter, what can people with diabetes do to keep themselves safe and healthy?

Pollution and cold weather can impact the care of diabetes in several ways. This season has a sharp rise in hospitalisations for people with diabetes. Flu and flu-like respiratory illnesses are common during winter. People with diabetes are 60% more likely to be hospitalised for flu-related symptoms than those without diabetes and often have poorer outcomes.

COVID-19 has also not gone away, and the risk of pneumonia is higher. Extreme pollution levels can also increase our risk of respiratory allergies and bronchial asthma. Exacerbations of infection in those with underlying chronic lung disease are much more common during winter.

What can one do to protect oneself?

Avoid going outdoors during the most polluted and cold times of the day- like very early in the morning. Opt for areas away from the main, traffic-heavy roads if going out. And yes, wearing a mask will help you. Masks are not just for protecting against Covid19. For people with diabetes, getting your annual flu shots, Covid-19 boosters, and pneumonia vaccinations are very important. These will protect you from grave illness and should be taken before the onset of severe winter.

Cold weather can make anyone crave comfort foods. The basics of mindful eating do not change with the changing weather. If you crave some hot parathas with butter or gajar halwa, cook them at home with less oil/ ghee and sugar substitutes once in a while if your blood glucose levels are under control.

Consume seasonal fruits and vegetables to boost immunity. Having nuts and seeds in winter can add healthy fats to the diet. It can be hard to be motivated to exercise in the winter, as getting out of the cosy blanket for exercise might not appear to be a good idea! But exercise is an essential part of keeping blood glucose in check. Don’t skip the exercise routine. Try to work out at home. Use the stairs, try lifting weights, exercise to videos, or do yoga at home.

Dry air in the winter can cause your skin to lose moisture and crack. Cracked skin is more prone to wounds and infections. Take extra care of your feet. Keep checking the area between the toes. If you notice any injury or infection that isn’t healing or is taking too long to heal, talk to a diabetes expert immediately.

Sick days can cause stress and result in blood sugar fluctuations. Wash your hands often with soap and water, and keep a hand sanitiser handy while going out.

With appropriate precautions, we may be able to keep ourselves safe and healthy during this season.

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