Extreme Heat: What Diabetics Need to Know

three vintage wall thermometers

We all enjoy summer, but with record-breaking high temperatures being recorded across the U.S — and a deadly heatwave sweeping Europe — it is important for everyone to take care to avoid heat-related ailments. For people with diabetes and other medical conditions, it is even more critical to take extra precautions during these hot months.

If you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels and protecting your vulnerable feet can be harder the higher the temperature climbs. There are multiple reasons the heat is more dangerous for diabetics, including:

  • Resist the urge to take sunny walks on the beach barefoot, as diabetes can lead to neuropathy, which makes your feet less sensitive and more prone to burns, injuries and bleeding (always wear sandals, or even better, diabetic socks with protective shoes)
  • Alternately, just lying in the sun for long periods without being active can cause blood sugar levels to rise
  • The heat makes you sweat more which can lead to dehydration, so be sure to replace your fluids regularly

Also, extreme temperatures are bad for diabetic medication:

  • Insulin is absorbed faster from the injection site when the weather is warm, increasing the risk of developing hypoglycemia
  • Also, heat can damage insulin, so if you use insulin, be sure to store it in cool temperatures
  • Extreme heat can also affect blood glucose meters and testing strips, so be sure to use these when you are inside or away from direct sunlight

Tips for Enjoying Summer Safely

Even if you have diabetes, you can still have fun in sun this summer. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the hot days more safely.

Keep a tighter check on your blood sugar levels.

If you plan on swimming or being active in the sun, be prepared to adjust your diet (or modify your insulin doses if you take insulin) Carry carbohydrates with you and eat a little extra before your activity.  Always check your body’s glucose levels before activities and have a proper snack on hand if you can. (You should carry something sugary with you as well, just to be extra prepared.)

Stay hydrated!

Drink a lot of water and sugar-free beverages when you are outdoors in the heat to help keep your body hydrated. We recommend carrying sugar-free drinks with you at all times and remind yourself to take sips regularly.

Protect your skin from the sun.

When going out in extreme heat, you should wear long sleeves, or loose pants and a large hat to protect you from the sun’s rays. (Sunglasses are good too.) You should also apply sunscreen lotion to any exposed parts of your body before you go out into harsh sunlight to protect from burning.

Protect your feet, especially if you have neuropathy! 

If you have diabetes, you know how important caring for your feet can be. If you have neuropathy, you may not become aware if your feet become sunburned or are burned by hot sands, so inspect your feet regularly, apply sunscreen and keep your feet protected.

Creative Care is here for you, no matter the season

At Creative Care we want to be sure you stay safe in the heat this summer. We can provide comfortable diabetic socks that can help tackle moisture in the extreme heat, as well as other solutions to help you enjoy summer and all seasons to their full potential.

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