Summer is here and it can be tough to beat the heat with diabetes. Discover easy ways and new summer products to help you combat the heat and enjoy the sunny days of summer.
- Hot weather is temperatures above 80°F, which can be worse when coupled with high humidity. Extreme heat is particularly dangerous for people with diabetes, children under 4 and seniors over 65. Symptoms of heat stroke include weakness, confusion, heavy sweating, rapid heartbeat, nausea, dizziness and darkened urine, which is a sign of dehydration. Getting dehydrated can have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels and cause other health problems. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and stay away from sugary beverages such as soda. The Vapur flexible water bottle is refillable, lightweight and easy to carry around because it flattens out when it is empty. Another great product is the S’well water bottle that keeps water cool for 24 hours. You can easily fit ice cubes in the mouth of the bottle but still have drip free drinking. Try a Frogg Togg Towel which is light weight and cooling and sticks to you while you exercise. Place it in cool water, wring out the excess water and it will remain cool for your exercise session. There is a bandana called Erodyne which after soaking in water with the excess removed, it will cool off your head while exercising. Test you blood sugar more frequently during the heat to check for higher numbers due to dehydration.
- Make sure to protect your skin when you go out in the summer sun. Light-colored clothing keeps you cooler, especially when it fits loosely. Put on sunscreen with an SPF 30+, such as Vanicream with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. It is also free of irritants such as fragrances and dyes. Remember to put sunscreen on areas such as the tops of your feet and the edges of your ears. Look for clothing that has sunscreen protection built in. Apply a lip balm with sunscreen, such as Chapstick with SPF 30.
- Take care of your feet throughout the summer. Wear closed shoes and avoid footwear such as flip-flops or sandals that can lead to foot injuries. Your shoes and socks should fit properly and be made of breathable materials. Look inside your shoes and socks before putting them on to make sure there are no pebbles or irritants. Put on slippers at home and water shoes at the beach or pool. Trim your toenails straight across or have a podiatrist do it for you. Check your feet each day for sores, cuts or other irregularities that should be reported to your doctor. Wash your feet daily with gentle soap and warm water, and then dry them with a soft towel. Never cut or scrub calluses’ or dry skin. Use a foot cream to moisturize your feet after washing them and avoid the areas between your toes. Anastasia Diabetic Foot Treatment can help trigger skin cell growth, relieve pain and prevent infection with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties. Northwestern University is currently working on a simple ointment that might someday help people with diabetes heal painful ulcers on the feet.
- Remember heat can damage your medications and supplies, including insulin pumps. Never leave your diabetes supplies in a hot car, out in the sun or around the pool or beach. Check your medicine and supplies to find out when high temperatures can affect them. Use a cooler to store your insulin but do not place it right on a gel pack or ice pack. An option is the MedPort On The Go Organizer, where you can store your insulin and sharps during short excursions. If you are traveling for more than a day, talk to your doctor about whether you need to adjust your medication schedule.
- Try to stay cool during the hottest hours in the day. Usually that time is between 10AM and 4PM in the afternoon, depending on your location. Stay in an air conditioned environment. Exercise during the early morning or later in the day when it is cooler. Consider a personal and portable fan to give you a blast of relief if you do have to take a brief trip outside in the heat. Some of them even have an attached water feature you can squirt cold water on yourself to help cool down.
Keeping a few convenient summer products on-hand can help you beat the heat with diabetes. Remember to stay cool and hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration. With some preparation and updated products, you can have the best summer ever.