Drink a Lot of Water (and Carry Some Snacks, Too)
This is good advice for everyone on hot days, but if you have diabetes, staying hydrated is especially important.
Dehydration is strongly correlated with increased blood sugar levels. Further complicating the issue, dehydration often causes you to urinate more frequently (which further depletes your water supply) and also reduces circulation (which makes it harder for your body to absorb insulin).
As you can see, this can cause blood sugar levels to spiral quickly out of control!
If you’re going to be out for a while, make sure you bring along a couple of water bottles and/or non-caffeinated, electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks and refill whenever you can to ensure you don’t run out at a critical time.
Also, avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can actually increase your risk of dehydration.
Finally, while dehydration is linked with high blood sugar, physical exertion can also decrease your body’s demand for insulin and actually lower your blood sugar. So, make sure you pack some snacks and/or glucose tabs with you just in case.
Protect Your Insulin and Equipment
Did you know that extreme heat can actually cause your insulin to degrade? Most varieties of the hormone in common use can start to break down rapidly once they reach a temperature above 93 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Likewise, test strips, monitoring devices, and even insulin pumps can also suffer operational failures and reduced accuracy under extreme weather conditions.
You should never store your insulin or testing equipment in direct sunlight, a hot vehicle, or any other location that can get extremely hot.
If you’re going to be outside and away from your vehicle or home for an extended period of time, take along a cooler for your supplies (but don’t put insulin directly on ice either, as extreme cold temperatures are also problematic). You can also get a small cooler that charges using the 12V adapter on your vehicle.
If you’re concerned that your insulin pump may fail due to high temperatures, it might also be wiser to take some long-acting insulin instead. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
Protect Your Feet
We understand that it’s hot in Texas in spring and summer, and nobody wants to wear closed-toed shoes unless they absolutely have to. You’d rather grab your flip flops, or even go barefoot.
However, unprotected feet are a big no-no for those with diabetes, especially if you suffer from the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy or have any history of foot or leg ulcers.
Your bare feet are much more likely to suffer cuts and scrapes from rocks and sharp objects on the ground. You’re also far more likely to pick up an unwanted fungal infection from a pool deck or locker room floor.
And because diabetes makes you less likely to feel injuries, heal wounds, and fight off infections, those “little accidents” can quickly develop into something more dangerous.