There are many winter weather woes to face when you have diabetes. Find out how to protect your dry skin, store insulin properly and more. Winter doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster when you keep a few simple tips in mind.
- Dry skin can be the result of harsh winter weather and high blood glucose levels. Combat dry skin by keeping it clean, dry and protected with a moisturizer. Drink plenty of water to replenish fluids and eat regular meals. Avoid extreme temperatures such as hot baths or electric blankets. Keep your hands protected by gloves and your feet warm in socks, slippers and diabetic shoes. Always keep your feet covered to avoid dryness and cuts.
- Feet are vulnerable, especially for people with diabetes who may experience numbness. Dry skin can lead to cracked skin, infections and other serious foot conditions. Inspect your feet every day for possible problems. Use a mirror if you can’t see them well. Keep your feet dry and clean. Wash your feet in warm water every day but do not soak them. Dry them completely then apply lotion to the surface of your feet. Avoid the areas between your toes. Visit a podiatrist regularly to help you with everything from calluses to cutting toenails. Take your shoes and socks off when visiting your physician.
- Wear diabetic socks and shoes that fit properly. Your feet should feel comfortable and be able to breathe. Always look inside your shoes for foreign objects that could hurt your feet. If your feet are still cold, discuss it with your doctor. Ongoing coldness could be a sign of other conditions such as circulation problems or neuropathy. Test your blood glucose levels regularly and share the records with your doctor. Exercise at least five days a week for a half hour to improve circulation. Use your medications as instructed.
- Winter is a time when many people face off with colds and flu. Ask your doctor about getting a flu shot. The best time of year for a flu shot is the early fall. Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when you do not have access to soap and water. Stay warm, eat well and drink plenty of fluids to try to prevent colds and flus. Avoid being around people who are sick. If you get a cold or flu, stay home and get rest. Create a sick day plan to reduce the stress if you get ill during the winter.
- Do not store insulin in fluctuating temperatures, such as extreme heat or cold. Insulin should not be moved from one temperature to another. Keep your insulin in a stable location where it is not affected by the elements. A cooler is a solution if you need to transport insulin. Try to warm it to room temperature before using it to make injections more comfortable. Also avoid extreme temperature changes for your glucose meter and pumps. Before testing, rub your hands together to warm them for a more accurate reading. Keep your insulin and supplies away from heaters. Never let insulin freeze.
- If the cold weather disrupts your usual workout routine, mix it up a little. Pop in a video or DVD to exercise in your living room. Play games such as the Wii Fit. Walk up and down stairs in your house. If you have no stairs, march in place while playing your favorite upbeat music. Burn off some calories by cleaning the house from top to bottom. Stand up often while watching TV or sitting at the computer.
- Combat stress by enjoying life. Read a good book or watch a television show. Do yoga or Tai Chi. Stick to a balanced routine. Eat moderate amounts of carbohydrates to maintain energy and eat plenty of vegetables, water and protein to avoid snacking on the wrong foods while you’re indoors.
- Be aware of persistent feelings that might go beyond winter woes. If you continue to feel sad or fatigued and lose interest in everyday activities for more than a couple of weeks, it is time to talk to a professional about your feelings.
Most people experience the winter woes but there are simple ways to ward them off. Take care of yourself and watch for signs of trouble so you can report them to your doctor immediately. Remember winter is temporary and spring is right around the corner!