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When the Heat Is On

May 18, 2018
Managing Diabetes in the Heat Can Be a Challenge

When temperatures rise, keeping diabetes in check can be more difficult for a couple of reasons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some diabetes complications damage blood vessels and nerves that can affect sweat glands, which means your body can’t cool down as effectively. What’s more, high temperatures change the way your body uses insulin. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage your diabetes when the heat is on.

When you’re heading outside:
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat. You want to avoid getting sunburned, since it can raise your blood sugar level.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Protect your feet. Don’t venture out in bare feet.
  • Avoid being outside during the hottest times of the day.
  • Check the heat index — a measurement that combines the temperature and the humidity. The more humid it is, the harder it is for your body to cool down.
When handling your meds:
  • Never keep medications in a hot car or in direct sunlight. Check the package instructions to find out the optimal temperatures to store your medicines and testing supplies.
  • Heat can also damage your blood sugar monitor and insulin pump, so take the same precautions with these items.
When you’re exercising:
  • Test your blood sugar before, during, and after being active.
  • Go out early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are lower; or head to an air-conditioned place, such as a mall or a gym, to be active.
  • Drink lots of water. People with diabetes tend to get dehydrated more easily. Keep water on hand when you’re active, as well as when you’re not. Avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.