Diabetes is a condition that affects the body in many ways. One that people may not be familiar with is challenges that can arise with diabetes and hot weather. People with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) are affected differently by extreme heat than those without the disease. For example, in some cases diabetes causes damage to nerves and blood vessels. This damage has a negative impact on the functioning of sweat glands that the body uses to stay cool. Hot weather can also lead to dehydration.
This blog post provides insight on how to manage diabetes in hot weather.
Does Hot Weather Affect Blood Sugar Levels?
People newly diagnosed with diabetes may wonder, “Does hot weather affect blood sugar?”. Yes, it can. Whether you’re staying hydrated, what you’ve eaten and how active you are in extreme heat all factor into how the weather affects you.
If you begin sweating heavily, you can become dehydrated, causing your glucose levels to rise. This can cause you to urinate frequently, which further dehydrates you and raises your glucose levels even more, in a vicious cycle. Plus, dehydration leads to decreased blood flow to the skin, making it harder for injected insulin to be absorbed. So, it’s important for diabetics and their loved ones to understand the hot weather-blood sugar relationship.
Tips for Managing Diabetes in the Heat
While managing diabetes in hot weather can be challenging, there are actions you can take to minimize the effects of heat. Use these tips regarding extreme heat and diabetes:
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water in hot weather is important for everyone, and especially people who have diabetes. Doing so can help prevent the vicious cycle described above.
- Avoid sunburn. Sunburn can stress your body and elevate your blood sugar. Wear protective clothing and sunscreen, and also protect your eyes from the sun.
- Test your blood sugar levels more frequently. The more quickly you identify an issue, the easier it is to correct it and keep your levels stable.
- Adjust your insulin as appropriate. Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator about how to adjust your insulin in advance of extreme heat exposure and/or exercise.
- Keep a glucagon kit handy. Especially if you’re prone to very low blood sugar, it’s important to have a kit and know how to use it.
- Have snacks with you. Quick access to food can keep your blood sugar from getting too low.
- Take proper care of your medication. Insulin must be kept cool and devices like insulin pumps can also be affected by high heat. Be sure to protect them.
Keep Your Cool
Hot weather doesn’t have to hold you back! The key is understanding how extreme heat affects diabetes and taking action to address the challenges.
Cold weather can also be a challenge for diabetics. Learn more about diabetes management and how to stay warm in cold weather as a diabetic.