How Does Heat Affect My Blood Sugar Levels?

Extreme heat can affect your blood sugar control in a number of ways. In hot weather we naturally perspire more than usual, thereby increasing the risk of dehydration which, in turn, causes blood glucose levels to rise.  This dehydration is further exacerbated by frequent urination, a common side effect of high blood glucose levels. Without proper management and prevention, this cycle of dehydration can quickly escalate and cause problems. This is particularly important for older individuals as our ability to regulate body temperature decreases as we age.

How do I manage my diabetes during the hotter months?

Here are a few simple tips from Credentialled Diabetes Educator, Leanne Mullan, to help you keep your condition under control as the mercury rises.

  • Keep your Fluids up

    Staying hydrated is critical for people with diabetes so it’s important to drink plenty of water, even when you’re not thirsty. During summer, and particularly when out in the sun doing physical activity, it’s even more important to drink plenty water. A handy tip is to always carry a small bottle of water in your bag or ensure you have a drink of water with every meal and snack.

  • Monitor Blood Glucose Levels

    As hot weather can influence blood glucose levels, it’s important to continue to monitor them regularly, particularly if you feel unwell. Talk to your diabetes team about the potential action you would need to take should your blood glucose levels become too high (above 15mmol) or low (below 4mmol). For more information on this, refer to our hypo management article.

  • Always Carry Your Supplies

    If you’re heading out for the day, ensure you not only pack plenty of water, but take all your diabetes supplies as well. This includes your medications, blood glucose monitor, snacks and hypo treatment.

  • Protect your Medication and Supplies

    As medication is at risk of being damaged by the sun, it is a good idea to transport it in a cooler bag on very hot days, taking care it doesn’t freeze. Extreme temperatures can also affect your blood glucose monitor and test strips. Aim to keep your supplies as close to normal room temperature as possible and out of direct sunlight.

  • Avoid Sunburn

    Sunburn stresses your body and can result in blood glucose elevations. Always wear sunscreen, eye protection and a hat when outdoors.

  • Wear Appropriate Shoes

    It is wise not to go barefoot even if you’re at the beach or pool. If you’re an avid swimmer, investing in a well-fitting pair of light weight swim shoes may protect your feet against potential cuts and scrapes. Read our tips for choosing the best footwear here.

  • Use the Air Conditioner

    On days of extremely high temperatures, it is best to stay inside where there is air-conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider a visit to a friend or family member who does, or even an outing to nearby air-conditioned shopping centre for a few hours. It is wise to avoid going outdoors during the hottest parts of the day.

We hope these simple warm weather tips will enable you to enjoy summer. Here’s to drinking lots of water, keeping cool, staying safe and appreciating the long hot summer days!

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