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Seasonal Changes in Diabetes Management

As someone with diabetes, you know the daily struggles that come along with properly managing your condition. The meal planning, exercise requirements and blood sugar monitoring often just become second nature to you as you learn how to adapt your lifestyle to keep your blood sugar in optimal range. Unfortunately, seasonal changes can throw a spanner into the works, upsetting your seemingly well-balanced life. Below you will find helpful information on how to handle seasonal changes and what you can do to make the adjustment period less stressful:

 

Understand Seasonal Changes Matter1

As a person with diabetes, you may find hotter temperatures affect you more than those who don’t have the condition. Consequently, you might find yourself getting overheated, and even experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke as a result. As a person with diabetes, you may also lose more water from your body than the average person, making dehydration a danger in warmer months as well. An increased outside temperature can also change how your body processes insulin. This means you might have to check your blood sugar more regularly and adjust your insulin and/or diet as a result. Discuss any possible changes you’re considering with your healthcare professional. Finally, the changing of seasons can throw your routine off. It can impact your eating schedule and even your meal options can change, all of which can lead to issues with diabetes management. Thankfully, once you recognise the real impact seasonal changes can have on diabetes management, you can take steps to counteract them.

 

Tips For Managing Diabetes in the Heat: Warm Weather Wisdom1

Here are some ways to counteract the heat and ensure you stay on top of your diabetes even in the summer months.

  • When you are active outdoors in the heat, make sure to check your blood sugar regularly. If you are noticing that your sugar is not ideal, remember, the increased temperature can alter the way your body reacts, causing your blood sugar to rise when you might not expect it. Talk to your doctor about possible changes to your medication when you are outdoors in the summer months.

  • Be sure to wear light-coloured, lightweight and loose-fitting clothing outdoors. This will keep you cooler.

  • Drink lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. It’s also important to avoid certain drinks like sports drinks, coffee, alcohol, or those containing caffeine as these can actually dehydrate you and cause your blood sugar levels to spike, which is the last thing you want.

  • Keep in mind a sunburn can increase your blood sugar levels, so make sure to avoid getting one by wearing a hat and sunscreen when outside.

  • Try to avoid being outdoors in the heat of the day if you can. It’s still important that you stay active, but you might be better off exercising in the cool of the evening or the morning hours instead of in the heat of the day. If you have scheduling conflicts with these times, try to work out indoors during especially warm days

Don’t Forget About Your Equipment1

Not only does your body feel the pressure of increased heat during the summer months, your equipment can also feel the burn. Keep the following tips/information in mind in order to keep your supplies in proper working order, even during the summer months:

  • Never leave your medicine/insulin or diabetes equipment in a hot car or in a hot location.

  • The temperature can alter the effectiveness of your medication.

  • Your insulin pump, blood sugar monitor, test strips, etc. can all become damaged when left in the heat.

  • If you are out and about and need to take your equipment along, consider using a cooler. Be sure you DON’T put your insulin directly on the ice.

Cooler Weather Can Also Impact Diabetes Management1

We’ve discussed how the hot weather that comes along with spring and summer can cause problems as it relates to managing your diabetes. However, cool weather can also cause problems. For example, the cold outdoor temperatures can make staying active difficult. In addition, the cooler months come along with many holidays that can cause all sorts of problems relating to your diet. Thankfully, by knowing the temptations and the problems associated with cooler months and preparing yourself for them, you can often find ways to work around these issues.

Tips For Managing Diabetes In Cooler Months1

The following are some tips for managing your diabetes in cooler months:

  • Stay active, even when it’s cold outside. You can work out indoors, in a gym, join a class, whatever it takes to get your blood pumping. This will help your mood by getting endorphins pumping and make you warmer as well, at least for a time.

  • Keep checking your blood sugar despite cold hands due to frigid temperatures. Regular testing is vital to keeping your diabetes under control, so don’t skip this crucial step.

  • Keep your hands warm, and find a warmer place to go to check your blood sugar. You may need to gently massage your fingers to facilitate blood flow to your fingertips prior to pricking your finger.

  • If you’re participating in outdoor activities in the cold weather, keep your meter and strips inside your clothing so they don’t get too cold.

  • Keep medications and insulin in an insulated bag to maintain the appropriate temperature.

As you know, managing diabetes is an ever-evolving adjustment of insulin, of medication, activity level and diet changes. You can throw in seasonal changes as another factor you need to consider as well. Thankfully, by following the helpful tips outlined above, you will be prepared to embrace life, whatever the weather.

 

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Reference:

1 Managing Diabetes in the Heat [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 20]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesheattravel/index.html