How the summer heat can affect diabetes

A diabetic woman on mountaintop health packages dubai

A discussion with Dr. Shipra Patil, Specialist Internal Medicine.

Why are the negative effects exacerbated in the summer on diabetics? What are the most prominent of these problems?

Enjoying the sun is one of the things many people look forward to in the summer. But if you have diabetes, it can be harder to manage your blood sugar levels in the hot weather. Being in the sun for long periods can affect your blood sugar levels (BSL) because it can lead to both an increase or decrease in BSL.

What are the wrong factors or habits that exacerbate these problems?

If you’re not being very active, blood sugar levels increase more than usual, whereas moderate to high activity can make you sweat profusely. This, combined with not drinking enough liquids, leads to dehydration. Dehydration increases the BSL, and a high BSL can make you urinate more, causing more dehydration and an even higher BSL. It is a kind of vicious cycle.

If there is damage to blood vessels and nerves due to diabetes, there can be decreased sweating. This can become serious as outdoor temperatures rise, leading to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which are medical emergencies.

High temperatures and heat change how your body uses insulin. It will be absorbed more quickly from the injection site in warm weather and increase the risk of hypoglycaemia. However, if you are dehydrated, this leads to reduced blood supply to the skin and thus reduced insulin absorption from the injection site.

Tell us the prevention methods that protect diabetics from these problems?

The sudden addition of exercise may put you at increased risk for hypoglycaemia. Hence, it is advisable to take extra precautions and monitor BSL before exercising.

Tips for Managing Diabetes in the Summer

  • Stay well hydrated
  • Check the weather forecast and limit the time spent outside. Work out in an air-conditioned gym
  • Use sunscreen to protect your skin
  • Dress for the weather
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar-containing beverages
  • Check blood sugar levels frequently
  • Know the signs of Low Blood Sugar
  • Store your medications properly. Never leave insulin, glucometers, or strips in a hot vehicle
  • Wear proper footwear and check your feet daily at the end of the day

If your blood sugars are higher than 250 mg/dl, it is recommended to improve your blood sugar control before engaging in heavy physical activity.

If you’re careful about managing your diabetes, then there’s no reason you can’t have fun in the sun like anybody else. Taking a few precautions can help.

If you have any questions about diabetes and its complications, book a consultation with one of our Internal Medicine Specialists today!