Hot weather can be dangerous to anyone, but it’s particularly risky for people with diabetes. It’s not just the sunburn and the dehydration and the heat exhaustion you have to worry about; it’s also the wacky blood sugar readings, the delicate supplies that can be damaged by the heat, and more.
Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to ensure that you stay healthy, happy, and safe during the summer months, no matter how long that inevitable heat wave may last. In the list below, we’ve compiled some ways summer heat will threaten to ruin your vacation, as well as the things you can do to combat it.
Here are some ways your “diabeast” might be a little harder to tame when you’re exposed to hot weather.
6. Heat can damage your insulin.
You already know to be pretty protective of the life-saving insulin you take, but you may have to be a little bit extra-careful during the summer months, as carrying or leaving insulin anywhere warm can ruin it. If you’re lucky, it’s just a bunch of money (and insulin) down the drain. If you needed that insulin and don’t have access to more right away, however, your health could be in serious jeopardy.
Make sure you have a plan in place for keeping your insulin from heating up during summer travel. Always find out where you’ll be able to store your insulin before you head out, or keep a small cooler with you to put it in. It’s always best to have a backup plan as well, just in case.
You can tell whether your insulin has been compromised if the once-clear liquid turns cloudy or changes in texture, becoming grainy and sticking to the side of its container.
5. Summer weather can make your blood sugar fluctuate drastically.
Sweating, dehydration, and sunburn all contribute to raising your glucose levels. But a warmer-than-normal body temperature can actually make your blood sugar levels drop due to an increase in metabolism. So you can expect your blood glucose to misbehave a little bit when it’s hot out.
Carefully monitor your blood sugar on hot days so you can take action early if it unexpectedly goes low or high. Also make sure you’re drinking plenty of water (avoid alcohol and caffeine) and cooling off when you can.
4. You might think it’s heat exhaustion when it’s actually a hypo.
The symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack, such as tiredness and sweating, can look very similar to the symptoms of heat exhaustion. This could lead others (and potentially you too) to believe you just need to cool off, when actually you need glucose.
Make sure the people you’re with know you have diabetes so they can understand the warning signs of hypoglycemia as something other than heat exhaustion and get you help when you need it. And check that blood sugar regularly to stay on top of what’s going on in your body.
Click “next” below for 3 more ways the heat affects your ability to manage your diabetes.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?