Managing Diabetes in the Summer Heat

Summer Heat

The extreme heat of summer can affect your blood sugar levels. How the heat affects your levels depends on what you"ve eaten, whether you"re well-hydrated and your activity level.

I tell my patients they can participate in outdoor activities and enjoy all types of weather as long as they take a few precautions. 
Follow these five tips to help manage your diabetes, while enjoying the outdoors:

  1. Drink plenty of water and always pack snacks. Staying hydrated is extremely important for people with diabetes. Always carry a water bottle. Whether you"re hiking, playing a sport or simply sitting outside in the sun, drinking water is a must. When it"s hot out, you may not be as hungry and your numbers may fluctuate.  In addition, never go anywhere without a couple of snacks. Consider packing seasonal fruits such as watermelon and berries for added hydration.
  2. Make medication adjustments as needed. Ask your provider and diabetes educator if you should adjust medications prior to exercising. In the summer, people tend to be more active. This can make you more at risk for hypoglycemia. Carry a fast acting sugar in case you experience low blood sugars. Check your blood sugars often.
  3. Keep glucose meters, strips and insulin cool. Your medicine could be damaged from being left in the sun, in the car or in your purse on a hot day. Blood glucose meters and test strips can be damaged, and altitude can affect blood glucose meter performance. Use insulated bags protected by a cool pack to safely store your supplies, but avoid freezing.
  4. Avoid sunburn. Sunburn damages your skin and can affect diabetes control. A serious burn stresses your body and can raise blood sugar levels. Apply sunscreen often; wear a wide-brimmed hat along with protective clothing whenever you go outside.   
  5. Protect yourself from heat injuries.  Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include becoming dizzy, faint, profuse sweating, nausea, headache, and/or muscle cramps. Move to a cooler place, cool your skin, drink fluids and loosen clothes. If not feeling better, seek medical treatment.

Summertime is a great time for all, be aware of heat issues, and enjoy!

Tammy Robinson, RN, BSN