Tips for a Healthy Summer with Diabetes
It's summertime! Did you know that if you have diabetes you need to be extra careful during the summer? Do you know which summer footwear is better for people with diabetes? Do you know if sunburns affect blood sugar levels? Do you know how to protect your testing supplies and medications during hot weather? Trying to have an active summer with outdoor picnics or visiting amusement parks or hitting the road for short day trips or vacations while maintaining an eating and blood testing routine can be difficult. However, with a few precautions, you can enjoy the summer while also maintaining good blood glucose control.
Sunscreen - Being active in the sun can help lower blood sugar levels but that can be undone if you get a nasty sunburn that can make them skyrocket. The FDA has recently changed their guidelines for sunscreen products aimed to reduce sunburn and skin cancer risks. These new guidelines will be very important for those with diabetes to reduce the risks of sunburn which increase blood glucose levels. It is also important to remember sunscreen if you are riding in the car for an extended period of time since rays of the sun can reach through windows and open sunroofs.
Shoes – While it is fun to go barefoot during the summer, because of the risk of cuts, which could become infected, it isn't for people with diabetes. Flip-flops and other sandal type shoes are also popular but should also be selected with care since they still leave your feet vulnerable to blisters and sores that can become infected if undetected or untreated. Since your feet swell as the day goes on, it is important NOT (Edited to include missing word) to select shoes in the morning so you don't select a pair that will become too tight later in the day which increases the chances of developing blisters and sores when walking during travel. Be sure whatever you purchase fits comfortably without rubbing and properly protects the feet from injury.
Sun and Heat – Traveling with insulin can be a challenge. Did you know that it didn't need to be refrigerated at all times? If your insulin is already opened it can usually be maintained at room temperature (72 degrees F) for about 28 days. Unopened insulin normally requires refrigeration. It is best to check with your pharmacist to be sure that is true for your particular brand. One key to notice when traveling is that insulin needs to be protected from extreme heat or cold. That means care in not placing unopened insulin in a cooler with a freezer pack that maintains a temperature below 36 degrees F or leaving opened insulin bottles in a bag in the hot car for several hours while you sight see. Is it also important to shield your glucose meter from the sun when testing. If your test strips are exposed to direct sunlight, heat or humidity they can provide an inaccurate result. Find some shade when testing to be sure your results are accurate. A key for summer success will be to plan ahead and be sure you have a proper insulin travel container and supplies and a plan for testing while away from home.
Self Monitoring – Summer fun swimming and playing in the hot sun at the beach, swimming pool or a water park can cause you not to notice you are sweating as a symptom of low blood sugar. It can also cause you to lose track of time related to eating and medications. You might believe your increased thirst is from the heat and being active instead of related to a sign of high blood sugar. It is very important to try to keep as normal an eating and testing schedule as possible and to monitor how you are feeling. Drinking extra water is also extremely important since dehydration can cause false high blood sugar test readings. When in doubt, test frequently and eat protein and vegetable rich meals and snacks every few hours to keep your sugars stable while having a fun and active summer.
What summertime issues do you face with diabetes? What tips and tricks have you found helpful?
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