Surviving Summer. Meet Jane, a woman in her late 50s who has been living with type 2 diabetes for over a decade. Two summers back, while camping with her family in the forests, she experienced the worst form of hyperglycemia. This event may had ruined her vacation, but not her strong spirit. Jane took charge last summer and decided to take a different approach. She started by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, carrying a refillable bottle with her wherever she went. She also made a conscious effort to avoid sugary drinks and instead opted for unsweetened iced tea or water infused with fresh fruits – ensuring diabetes does not slow her down.
Jane was not the only one. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 700 people die yearly in the United States because of extreme heat. The hot weather directly causes heatstroke and can kill hundreds to thousands if no preventive measures are applied. A person with diabetes may be more susceptible to heat stroke during the summer due to their body’s inability to regulate temperature effectively. This can be especially true for older adults with diabetes. Factors like high temperatures, and increased sweating during the summer season can lead to dehydration for older adults like Jane. The condition makes it more difficult to manage blood glucose, potentially causing hyperglycemia.
In order to avoid heat stroke and hyperglycemia, it’s important for people with diabetes to take the necessary precautions during the summer months.
Jane also discovered the benefits of swimming to manage her diabetes during the summer. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that helps keep her physically active while also keeping her cool in the summer heat. She also started walking in the early morning or late evening, when it’s cooler outside. To manage her blood sugar levels, Jane started monitoring her glucose more frequently during the summer months. She made sure to keep her insulin and testing supplies with her at all times, to make it easy to check her levels and adjust her insulin dose as needed. Thanks to these changes, Jane was able to enjoy the summer months without the discomfort and complications she had experienced in the past. She even managed to lose a few pounds and improve her overall health!
Isn’t Jane’s story inspiring? Here’s what you can do to enjoy summers to the fullest.
How to stay healthy and safe in the heat if you have diabetes?
Here are a few tips to make the summer more memorable this year.
Stay hydrated indoors and outdoors.
Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration. Avoid sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages, as they can increase your blood sugar levels. Instead, follow Jane, and choose unsweetened iced tea or water infused with fresh fruits.
Monitor blood sugar levels frequently.
It’s important to be aware that heat can have an impact on your blood sugar levels, making it necessary to monitor them closely during hot weather. To do this, you should aim to test your blood sugar more frequently and make any necessary adjustments to your medication under the guidance of your healthcare professional. This will help you stay on top of your diabetes management during the summer months and avoid any potential complications.
Preserve your medications safely
Extreme heat can damage diabetes medications, including insulin. Keep your supplies away from direct sunlight. Whether traveling or spending time outdoors, always use a cool pack or insulin bags to store your medications.
If you plan to be outdoors during hot weather, it’s important to wear loose and lightweight clothing in light colors. This type of clothing allows your skin to breathe easily, which can help regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating. By choosing these types of clothes, you can stay comfortable and cool during the summer months while also managing your diabetes effectively. We recommend cotton and linens over silk, and polyester.
Stay cool indoors.
When it’s scorching outside, choose to stay indoors. If possible, keep your homes well-ventilated and air-conditioned. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, use fans or air coolers as alternatives.
Protect your feet.
Hot and sunny weather can increase the risk of foot complications for people with diabetes. To reduce this risk, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes and slippers that provide ample support and protection for your feet. Avoid walking barefoot on hot surfaces such as sand or asphalt, which can cause burns and blisters. Additionally, it’s important to inspect your feet regularly for any signs of skin irritation, blisters, or other injuries. Report any foot problems to your healthcare provider promptly.
Plan your physical activity.
Physical activity is an important part of managing diabetes, but it’s crucial to plan your exercise routine carefully during hot summer weather. It’s best to exercise during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening, to avoid overheating. Make sure to stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise by drinking water regularly. Activities such as swimming can also be a great way to stay active during the summer months, as they keep you cool while providing a low-impact workout.
Be cautious with sun exposure.
Protect your skin by applying sunblock or sunscreen with a high SPF. Diabetes patients are more prone to skin complications, so take extra care to prevent skin damage during summers.
Know the signs of heat-related illness.
According to Dr. Joe Sanders, a leading expert in the field of diabetes and endocrinology, “Heat-related illnesses can range from mild symptoms such as cramps and exhaustion to more serious conditions such as heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. Look out for signs such as dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion, or a rapid heartbeat, and seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms. It’s important to take steps to prevent heat-related illness, such as staying hydrated and avoiding prolonged exposure to hot weather.”
Communicate with your healthcare professional.
Talk to your healthcare professional concerning diabetes management in hot weather. Obtain personalized advice and guidance that is tailored to your needs.
Stay healthy and enjoy this summer!