To date, 2016 has been the hottest year ever, and it’s getting hotter. From now on, coping with heat will be an important part of managing diabetes.
Some knowledge that might help you:
2. Sunburn can raise blood sugar. The Mayo Clinic advises wearing a good sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat while out in the sun.
3. Warm skin absorbs insulin faster, while dehydrated skin absorbs insulin more slowly. The closer you can keep your injection site to normal temperature and hydration, the better.
4. Dehydration from sweating can raise blood sugar and can lead to heat exhaustion. According to the Cleveland Clinic, people with diabetes are more likely than others to be admitted to hospitals for dehydration and heat exhaustion, and to die from it.
High glucose levels lead to urinating more, which increases risk for dehydration. This may be especially true if you’re on an SGLT-2 inhibitor drug. Keep drinking water with a bit of salt if you are blessed to live in an area where water is available. Have a bottle with you and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
Learn to check yourself for dehydration by pinching up some skin on your arm and letting it go. It should snap right back into place. If it goes more slowly, you are getting dehydrated. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine in super-hot weather, as they are dehydrating.
5. Heat can damage insulin, other medications, and test strips. The Joslin Clinic advises people to keep their insulin cool, but not on ice. If you take medicines with you while you’re away from home, get a cooler bag to keep your medicines and test strips in. Extreme heat or cold can affect test results and degrade diabetes drugs.
6. Insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors should do OK in hot weather if they are not exposed to direct sun for long. Joslin suggests covering them with a white towel.
7. Perspiration can loosen adhesives on continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps. Your sensor or infusion set might become loose. Insulin-pumpers.org suggests tapes and dressings such as Compeed and others you can see here that will stay tight when damp.
8. It becomes harder to exercise in the heat. Movement is important, but it’s more important to keep cool. Mayo Clinic says, “Exercise and do more strenuous activities in the early or later hours of the day when the temperatures are cooler and the sun is not at its peak.” At night may be even better. The same is true of physical work — best not to do it in midday.
Other sites go farther, saying to only exercise indoors in an air-conditioned space.
9. Summer shoes can affect feet. Everyday Health makes the point that summer footwear such as sandals, flip-flops, or going barefoot expose feet to injury, including burns from hot sidewalk. To be safe, always wear shoes, and check your feet carefully at the end of each day.
10. Know the signs of heat exhaustion. With diabetes, your risk for heat exhaustion is greater, because diabetes can affect the ability to sweat. If you don’t sweat, you can’t stay cool.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion are similar to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose): dizziness, fainting, confusion, and for some people, excessive sweating. “You may think it’s the heat and not recognize that your blood sugar levels have fallen to dangerous lows,” says Dr. Lori Raust of Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Check your blood sugar and get medical help for any of these symptoms.
11. Keep as cool as possible. Wear light-colored, lightweight clothes, and stay out of direct sun. Go to air-conditioned places. Try to set up a cool space for yourself and family. North sides of buildings are normally cooler than the south side. Basements are often several degrees cooler than higher floors.
You can cool your own space more affordably and ecologically by setting up a single air-conditioned room instead of putting the whole house on AC. Keep the cool-room door closed. Don’t run the AC if you’re not there.
Swamp coolers or fans also use less electricity than AC. Close your blinds in the day; open blinds and windows at night; don’t use the oven, according to this Huffington Post article.
12. For the future, take keeping cool seriously, because coming years are only going to get hotter. A house and roof painted white will be cooler. White color reflects heat instead of absorbing it, so white clothes keep you cool and a white house is one way to slow global warming.
You can see ten other low-tech ways to keep your residence cool at this site.