Managing your diabetes in hot weather

The summer heat can negatively impact your diabetes if you don't take precautions.

With high temperatures during summers, your blood sugar control can become a challenge. Heat can affect your diabetes control in multiple ways.

Depending on the type of food you’ve eaten, how hydrated you are and your activity level, heat can effect your blood glucose (sugar) levels. If you’re very active but not well-hydrated, the excessive heat can cause you to sweat leading to dehydration. Your blood glucose level may rise if you’re too dehydrated, and that can lead to frequent urination. That cycle can continue if you do not prevent it. It is also important to know that if you take insulin but you’re not well hydrated, the supply of blood to the skin is reduced; therefore, the injected insulin is not absorbed efficiently.

High temperatures can affect your medication and testing equipment as well by damaging them. Most types of insulin can tolerate heat up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Any tempreture higher than that can cause insulin to degrade. Testing supplies like test strips and glucose monitoring devices also can become ineffective if exposed to high temperatures.

Keep these tips in mind during hot summer days:
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Always carry enough water with you.
  • Seek your healthcare provider’s advice on adjusting your insulin dosage as needed prior to exercising in hot weather.
  • Be aware of your blood glucose levels by monitoring regularly and frequently since sweating in hot weather can cause your blood glucose levels to fluctuate. This will allow you to take quick actions to stabilize your levels and bring them back to normal.
  • Always have available foods that treat low blood sugar like glucose tablets, small tubes of cake icing, a small piece of fruit, or any other foods you have used before to treat low blood sugar. Eating regular meals or snacks can prevent blood sugar fluctuation so always carry healthy snacks with you.
  • Protect your medication and testing supplies from high heat by storing them at the right temperature. You can do that by taking a cooler with you or taking your supplies with you if you’ll be gone for a longer period of time.
  • Protect yourself from sunburn. Sunburn can raise your blood sugar levels by stressing your body. Use sunscreen and protective clothing if you’ll be spending any time outdoor as sunburn can occur quickly.

Always remember to consult with your health care provider if you have any concerns and use common sense when weather temperatures are too extreme. To find a Diabetes PATH, a Dining with Diabetes or a Diabetes Prevention program near you visit, the Michigan State University Extension events page.

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