Whether you're on vacation, spending a day at the beach, lounging in the pool, or just enjoying our long summer days, as we head into the hottest months of the year, it's imperative for people living with type 1 diabetes to take extra precautions to stay safe in the sun. It’s especially important as people with diabetes feel the heat more than people who don't have diabetes. Some reasons why include:
- People with diabetes can get dehydrated more quickly than those without it. Not drinking enough liquids when it's hot out can raise blood sugar levels, and that can make you urinate more, causing dehydration. Some commonly used medicines like diuretics ("water pills" to treat high blood pressure) can also cause dehydration.
- Warmer temperatures can change how your body uses insulin. As a result, you may need to test your blood sugar more often and adjust your insulin dose and what you eat and drink.
- Certain diabetes complications, such as damage to blood vessels and nerves, can impact your sweat glands, so your body can't cool as effectively. This can lead to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.
Feeling the Heat
Do you know what really feels the heat? Diabetes medicines and equipment. Be sure not to store insulin or oral diabetes medicine in direct sunlight or in a hot car. When temperatures reach 93 degrees Fahrenheit or above, insulin can change and become less effective. Keep your insulin and other medicines in a cooler if you're traveling. But don't put them directly on ice or on a gel pack. Heat can also damage your blood sugar monitor and insulin pump. Don't leave them in a hot car, by the pool, or in direct sunlight.
Warmer temperatures can change how your body uses insulin. As a result, you may need to test your blood sugar more often and adjust your insulin dose and what you eat and drink.
Don't Leave Home Without It
Summertime is a great time to travel. Whether it's to one of our beautiful beaches, spending the day at a local amusement park, or if you're headed out of state, it's important to add these essentials to your packing list.
- A letter from your doctor with written approval to travel with insulin and syringes
- Insulin Pens
- Test Strips
- Ketone Test Strips
- Extra snacks for quick carbs
- Emergency Glucagon
- Equipment (blood glucose meter, monitor, and supplies, pump supplies, and batteries)
And remember to pack twice as much medication and supplies as you think you will need. And keep it all, especially your insulin, in a carry-on bag.
Most importantly, wherever you go and whatever you do, enjoy the summer and stay safe.