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Here in the UK, with it being such a rare event, when we get a spell of warm weather, most of us are rushing to get outside and make the most of the chance to catch a few rays. However, hot weather brings with it a number of associated health risks, especially for those suffering from diabetes.
Managing among your condition during a heatwave calls for awareness of a number of issues;
As well as complications relating to blood sugar levels, as result of their condition, many diabetics are unable to produce sufficient sweat to stay cool in particularly hot weather. This is due to the damage that both type 1 and 2 diabetes can cause to nerve fibres connected to the sweat glands.
This makes staying hydrated very important, and you’ll need to take on extra fluids. Needless to say, how you choose to avert the risk of dehydration should tie in with your efforts to avoid hypoglycaemia/hyperglycemia. If you are worried about the former you might use an isotonic sports drink to boost your blood-sugars, where as if the latter is your concern, water would be a good choice.
If you are going to be doing anything particularly exerting during a period of high temperatures, it would be prudent to try and schedule such activities for the cooler parts of the day, such as the early morning and late afternoon.
Though for some people hyperglycemia is a big risk, it is not unusual to find that, when the weather is particularly hot, hypoglycaemia is more of a worry. This is because insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels by making the glucose in our bodies available for use as a fuel, is actually much more effective in the heat. (When hot, the blood vessels closest to the surface of our skin dilate, and as a result the insulin you take will be absorbed much quicker.)
This means you might need to reduce the quantity you use, and you should consult your doctor on this point. You should also be sure to take readings of your blood sugar more often, as you will find blood-sugar can be unpredictable in the heat.
Though it is true that over-exposure to heat and sunlight can damage your insulin, do not think that you should avoid taking it out with you. It’s important that you have it to hand. Small cool packs can help you keep your insulin safe, but you should always check its integrity before using. If your clear insulin turns cloudy, or your cloudy insulin starts to look grainy it has been damaged and should not be used.
Will Kerr writes on a wide range of health issues, from managing ongoing conditions to finding local health services through sources such as UK Directory.