Summer tends to be the time of year for vacations, yard work, or just relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying the outdoors. However, summer in our area also equates to high temperatures and humidity.
The summer weather can cause dehydration quickly and it is important for everyone, not just those with diabetes, to increase their intake of liquids. Dehydration can also occur when blood glucose levels are high (regardless of temperature), so when the thermometer rises it is extremely important to get enough fluids, especially water.
In 2014, the Joslin Clinic and the American Diabetes Association compiled a list of helpful tips for individuals with diabetes to help deal with the humid summer days and to avoid common travel issues:
- Keep hydrated. It is important to drink plenty of caffeine-free fluids such as water, sugar-free iced tea or lemonade and limit your intake of alcohol.
- Watch for signs of heat exhaustion. Symptoms may include: dizziness; fainting; excessive sweating; muscle cramps; clammy skin; and headaches or nausea.
- Exercise in an air-conditioned gym, early in the morning or late evening when temperatures tend to be more moderate.
- Always carry or wear a medical ID and contact information for your physician.
- Ask your doctor for a letter stating your diabetes diagnosis and your need to carry insulin, syringes, test strips and other supplies.
- Pack at least twice as much medication and testing supplies as you think you will need. Do not expose your supplies to extreme heat (glove compartment) or extreme cold (airplane cargo hold).
- Carry snacks and low blood sugar treatments, such as peanut butter crackers, trail mix and glucose tablets or gel.
- Test often as new foods, increased activity and different time zones can throw your glucose levels off.
- Protect your feet – wear comfortable well-fitting shoes and socks and never go barefoot.
Just because diabetes may be your constant traveling companion, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the summer. Ensuring that you stay healthy and keep your glucose levels steady requires organization and planning ahead.
Have a safe and great summer!