Summer is upon us, and I couldn’t be more exhausted. Or miserable! This time last week, we reached temperatures in the low and mid-30’s (Celsius) and I’ve been hiding out in the cool recesses of my basement ever since. I know, I know… I should stop complaining as winter temperatures in Saskatchewan can often hit -50 degrees Celsius and then there’s the shovelling. But I don’t function well in the heat, and would opt for an Alaskan cruise or deep-cave exploration as opposed to laying on a hot beach.
Diabetes doesn’t like heat, either. In fact, according to an article posted by the CDC, people with either Type-1 or Type-2 feel and experience heat a lot more than the average person. Why? Quite simply, nerve damage caused by Diabetes can affect the sweat glands, making it more difficult for Diabetics to cool themselves as efficiently. We also tend to dehydrate much easier, since when the heat starts to dehydrate us our blood sugars rise, we urinate more and lose more fluids… Wash, rinse and repeat.
The other issue is that heat simply slows down the will to move and you tend to want to lay in the shade and do nothing. This is one of the reasons why people in South America tend to go “siesta” in the afternoons, when the sun is at its peak and temperatures are highest. Maybe they have the right idea. Besides dehydration and other typical complications, high heat will also affect how your body processes your insulin doses, so more frequent blood glucose testing (if you aren’t using CGM) may be required to ensure you don’t hit too many highs and lows.
Your equipment carries an entirely different batch of issues. Insulin is the biggest problem, as it requires an ideal temperature range to be effective. Having insulin in direct sunlight or extreme heat will not only damage its effectiveness, but it may cause the medicinal ingredients to evaporate and turn your insulin into nothing more than very expensive water! But your equipment is no different, including insulin pumps, glucometers and even test strips will be adversely affected by the heat. So it’s important to keep these things packed in a cool receptacle when travelling outdoors for any period of time.
Yes, the summer season is nice to get out and get fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. But the heat can sure throw a monkey wrench into the daily life of someone with Diabetes. Especially since kids find themselves out of school and your routine may be royally shot to hell. But as long as your drinking plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic), using sunscreen and have a cool, air-conditioned environment to take breaks in, you shouldn’t have too many problems. Stay cool! ☯