With Diabetes, Beat the Heat

When the days get hotter, keeping close tabs on your diabetes becomes especially vital. These no-sweat tips can help you prevent diabetes-related problems caused by summer heat.

Drink plenty of liquids

Dehydration occurs when you lose a lot of fluid from your body. It can be a problem for anyone in hot weather. But if your blood sugar is high, your body loses more fluid in urine. This means you’re more likely to become dehydrated. Stay away from drinks with alcohol, caffeine, or lots of sugar. They can lead to more fluid loss. Some diabetes medicines can also raise your risk. So can water pills used for high blood pressure.

Beware of heat exhaustion

People with diabetes are at risk of overheating. This is especially true when you work or exercise outdoors. Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating

  • Cold or clammy skin

  • Muscle cramps

  • Tiredness

  • Weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fainting

If you feel this way, stop what you are doing. Move to a cooler spot, drink fluids, and get medical care.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. It occurs when your body overheats as the result of long exposure to heat or physical exertion in high temperatures. Heat stroke has the following symptoms:

  • High body temperature (103°F/39.4°C or higher)

  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin

  • Fast, strong pulse

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Confusion

  • Passing out (losing consciousness)

Call 911

Call 911 if someone has the symptoms of heat stroke above.

While you are waiting for help:

  • Move the person to a cooler place

  • Help lower the person's temperature with a cool cloth or a cool bath

  • Don't give the person anything to drink

Store insulin carefully

Insulin can lose its strength when kept in very hot temperatures, such as in a suitcase, backpack, or the glove compartment or trunk of a car. Use a travel case with an ice pack to keep insulin cool on hot days. But don't let the insulin freeze. Keep the insulin out of direct sunlight.

To make your insulin shots less painful, some healthcare providers advise that insulin be kept at room temperature. At room temperature, insulin will stay good for about a month. Mark your calendar or set an alarm on your smartphone or computer so you know when the month has gone by. If you buy multiple insulin bottles at one time, store the extra bottles in the refrigerator. Before using a new bottle of insulin, always check its expiration date.

Keep your glucose testing strips at room temperature. Keep the cap on the container. This will help you get the best results. Keep them in the refrigerator if your room temperature is high.

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