7 Tips for Managing Your Diabetes in Extreme Summer Heat

Diabetes makes it difficult for your body to tolerate heat. And being exposed to extreme heat can put your health at risk by causing significant blood sugar fluctuations.

No matter how much you love being outside in summer, if you have diabetes, you should take extra steps to protect your health. Rajesh B. Dave, MD, at Gulf West Medical Associates, specializes in diabetes, providing comprehensive lifestyle and medical care. 

Dr. Dave helps you create a sustainable lifestyle plan that supports your well-being, including providing these seven tips about staying healthy in extreme summer heat.

1. Drink plenty of fluids

Diabetes increases your risk of becoming dehydrated. Fluids leave your body along with excess blood sugar excreted in your urine. More fluids exit your body when you sweat in the summer heat. And some people with diabetes sweat excessively because high blood sugar damages specific nerves.

As you become dehydrated, your blood sugar levels rise, triggering your body to eliminate the sugar, and along with it, more fluids. That can turn into an ongoing cycle that causes significant dehydration. You can prevent this problem by drinking plenty of fluids. Just be sure to avoid beverages containing sugar, alcohol, or caffeine.

2. Prevent sunburns

You know to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. But if you have diabetes, there’s another reason to avoid a sunburn: The damage to your skin stresses your body, which raises blood sugar.

3. Frequently check your blood sugar

High temperatures affect your blood sugar and change how your body absorbs insulin. It’s essential to check your blood sugar more often because it will fluctuate under hot weather conditions. Check your blood sugar every half hour while swimming or enjoying other outside activities.

4. Know the signs of heat exhaustion (and low blood sugar)

Exercising in the heat magnifies your risk for dehydration and heat exhaustion. At the first sign of heat exhaustion — dizziness, sweating, feeling shaky or faint, clammy skin, headaches, and a fast heart rate — get into an air-conditioned building, rehydrate, and cool your skin with water or a fan.

Also, check your blood sugar because you could have low blood sugar because of extreme heat.

5. Protect your feet

If you have diabetes, it’s essential to protect your feet from cuts, scrapes, and bruises. In hot weather — and especially if you’re at the beach or lounging at the pool — you probably go barefoot or wear sandals. 

Unfortunately, exposing your feet also increases the risk of minor injuries that could quickly become a non-healing ulcer. Try not to go barefoot, and carefully check your feet for signs of injuries every evening.

6. Make sure your insulin pump is waterproof

Some insulin pumps are waterproof. Others are water resistant, which isn’t the same.

A waterproof pump can stay submerged to a specific depth for a limited time (the specifics depend on the type of pump). Water resistant means your pump can come in contact with rain or accidental splashes of water, but it can’t go underwater.

If your pump isn’t waterproof, you’ll need to disconnect it while swimming. Don’t stay off the pump longer than an hour. If you’re disconnected for more than an hour, you may need to replace the insulin doses you missed.

7. Keep your medication cool

High temperatures degrade insulin and other diabetes medications. Heat can also affect equipment like your insulin pump and diabetes test strips.

Keep your medication out of the extreme heat. If you store it in a cooler, don’t place insulin directly on the ice.

Call Gulf West Medical Associates or request an appointment online to learn more about how to stay healthy in the heat with diabetes.

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