Everyone looks forward to the warm, sunny days of summer. Make sure you’re on track by reviewing this diabetes summer checklist as you get ready for the good times. Being well-prepared ensures you stay healthy and happy all summer long.
- Heat and humidity can have an impact on your regular diabetes self management plan. Travel requires additional adjustments. Plan ahead and call your doctor before traveling to verify your schedule for blood glucose testing, insulin administration and taking medications. The doctor may advise you to have extra supplies on-hand for emergencies.
- People with diabetes are even more prone to dehydration in the hot weather. When you get dehydrated, your blood sugar can soar to dangerous levels. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Keep a bottle of water at work and carry one with you when you go out. Other good choices are seltzer or sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime. Avoid sweetened, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks that can actually make you more dehydrated.
- Try to avoid dramatic temperature changes that can put undue stress on your body. Stay in air conditioning or find a cool and shady spot with a fan. If you need to go outdoors try to plan to be outside in the early morning or later in the day when the sun is past its afternoon peak. The hottest hours of the day tend to be between noon and 3 p.m.
- While you keep cool, make sure your medications and other diabetes supplies are also being kept cool. Heat can damage your insulin, test strips, glucose meter and more. Never leave your supplies in direct sunlight or in a hot vehicle. If you are taking medications with you to the park or beach, consider putting them in a FRIO insulin wallet. Make sure they do not touch the ice or get frozen. If you travel by car or plane, keep extra supplies handy in a carrying case.
- Keep your feet covered and safe. Try to stay away from the temptation of wearing flip-flops or other open-toed shoes that can leave your feet vulnerable to injuries from rocks, shells or glass. Never go barefoot. Wear slippers at home and water shoes to the pool and beach. Wear shoes that fit properly and won’t cause blisters. Breathable diabetic socks with no seams can keep your feet comfortable without causing irritation.
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to block out UVA and UVB rays. Certain diabetes medications can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. If you are outside for more than two hours or go swimming, reapply sunscreen to all the exposed parts of your body including the tops of your feet. If you get a sunburn, soothe your skin with aloe vera lotion to avoid cracking skin that could be prone to infections.
- Summer parties and barbecues can tempt you to eat the wrong foods. Stick to a healthy, well-balanced eating plan that includes grilled meats, fresh vegetables and fruits as well as whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Bring diabetic foods to summer soirees to help you avoid the temptation that occurs around the buffet table.
- Summer is the ideal time to fit at least 30 minutes of exercise into each day. Take a walk, go swimming, or play ball with the kids. Ride your bike to the local store rather than driving. On hot and muggy days, plan to exercise indoors where you can control the temperature.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and be prepared to seek medication attention if drinking water does not improve the symptoms. Signs of heat exhaustion include sweating, headaches, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, nausea and muscle cramps. Check your blood sugar regularly and review your diabetes management plan with your doctor to see if you need to adjust any medications.
Summer brings to mind longer days, outdoor gatherings and happy memories. With proper planning, people with diabetes can enjoy the summer season without health complications. A healthy diet, regular exercise and constant hydration make a big difference.