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Why Summer Heat can mean Trouble for Diabetics

Summer is a great time of year, there’s all sorts of things to do like swimming, boating, water skiing, surfing, golf, bicycling and more. These activities can make Summer the perfect time for vacationing, as well, but many people have health problems that may be affected by the hot temperatures. Especially, those who are diabetic; they may not know how the hot summer heat can affect them.

152 Surveys by the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and by NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that many diabetics prefer not to take any preventative measures until the temperatures reach 100 degrees or more. Even at temperatures below 100 degrees, heat can be a problem for a diabetic because their ability to sweat is impaired. This impairment can pre-dispose diabetics to the usual heat-related illness and diseases and elevated blood sugar levels.

Insulin pumps can be affected by the heat. The adhesive securing the infusion set can become loose from sweat. Use a protective pouch with a small gel pack inside to keep your pump cool.

Studies show that many diabetics don’t even know how heat can affect them. Now, that’s scary when you consider the damage that can be done to your health if diabetes is not kept under control.

Air temperature added with the humidity can determine the heat index. Many people may not realize that the high humidity impairs a diabetic individuals ability to evaporate sweat.

Less than optimal glycemic levels can increase a diabetics risk of dehydration. Insulin, as well as, other diabetic medications can also be affected by high temperatures.

If you are a diabetic, stay hydrated. Keep your insulin and medications, as well as, bottled water with you at all times.

Watch out for signs that you are suffering from heat prostration such as, heavy sweating, dizziness, fainting, cold, clammy hands, muscle cramps, headaches or nausea and increased or rapid heartbeat. If you notice any of these symptoms, get to a cooler place and hydrate. If necessary, get some medical assistance.

Sweating is the first sign of possible dehydration. Diabetes can increase the excretion of urine which can add to dehydration, sweating profusely only adds to the problem Sweating can also decrease your sodium levels and electrolytes, so drink plenty of juices and drinks that can put these back into your system. You can also add sodium and electrolytes to your diet with a small intake of salt after exercising.

Sports drinks and fruit juices containing sugars and some artificial sweeteners are not good for any diabetics glucose levels, so you can try zero calorie sports and fruit drinks or you can make your own. Adding lemon, lime, orange or other natural fruit juice to water is a good way to get those electrolytes and stay hydrated without the added sugar.

Avoid too much caffeine, caffeine can cause you to lose water weight, adding to dehydration in the summer heat.

You should keep a close check on your blood glucose levels, at least 3 or 4 times a day will help you to do this. You should keep your glucose meter, strips, etc., in a cool place, out of the heat or sun.

Exercise in a cool house or gym rather than outside. Don’t overdo, especially if you are already getting too warm while exercising.

Be sure to wear your sunscreen and any protective clothing when you are out in the sun for an extended period of time.

You don’t have to sacrifice fun and exercise to enjoy the summer months; you just need to exercise caution and stay prepared and if you do, summer can be a great experience.

Sources:

http://www.ibtimes.com/contents/20100623/summer-heat-dangerous-diabetics.htm

http://www.joslin.org/info/Diabetes_Friendly_Tips_for_Handling_the_Summer_Heat.html

http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20100622/summer-heat-is-a-risk-to-diabetes-patients