Warm days mean more outside activities, fun with family and friends, and the recognition that you may need to manage your diabetes differently. Increased activity and heat can have a direct impact on blood sugar levels and your overall health if you aren’t prepared.
Want to have fun in the summer sun? Here are a few ways you can enjoy it all and keep your sugar in check.
1) Talk to your doctor before starting new activities. Exercise and fitness are essential for healthy bodies and good blood sugar control, but talk to your doctor before taking on a new or strenuous summer routine. Thinking of running your first 5K or hiking a mountain trail while on vacation? Consult with your healthcare provider first and make any adjustments they suggest to your carbohydrate intake or insulin dosing to avoid highs and lows.
2) Consider the temperatures and your equipment. Extreme temperature swings (especially heat) can damage your glucometer, testing strips and insulin. Keep essential testing tools out of hot cars or direct sunlight and make sure to pack your insulin on a cold pack as insulin can spoil when exposed to heat. Insulin pumps will alert you if your insulin has been exposed to unsafe temperatures, but it’s better to avoid that scenario altogether.
3) Avoid getting too hot. Men and women with diabetes are more likely to develop heat stroke. Avoid the sun at the hottest part of the day—between about 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. —and remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
4) Use sunscreen. Some diabetes medications can make you more susceptible to sunburn. This happens most often with oral medications, but it’s always a good idea to use at least an SPF 30 and reapply often if you are sweating or swimming. Severe burns that blister could put you at risk for slow healing and infection.
5) Protect your feet. Yes, even in summer remember to wear shoes that will protect your toes. Those trendy flip-flops may be cute, but they offer no security for your feet.
6) Stick to your diet. Aunt Sally made her famous triple-chocolate ice cream cake for the potluck. It may seem like a good idea to dive into a big plate of picnic goodies, but do your best to eat healthy foods and steer clear of sugar-surging treats. Bring along snacks to help you avoid excessive hunger and poor food choices, and choose fruit, salads, lower-carbohydrate and lower-fat options when you can.
Don’t be afraid to enjoy summer to its fullest. Even with diabetes, it’s possible to enjoy every activity safely. Make sure those around you are familiar with your diabetes and know how to help if an emergency arises. Wear medical alert identification, carry emergency contact information with you at all times.