It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of extreme heat. The closest I can get to actually “enjoying” higher temperatures is if I’m in a hot tub and have an air-conditioned environment to retreat to, when I get out. So I’ve been in a “do nothing” state for the past while since the city I live in has been the subject of a heat wave that’s shown temperatures in the high 30’s. It’s made it difficult to breathe outside, and the heat has been more than my air conditioning unit has been able to keep up with.
The extreme heat broke about four days ago, and I’ve been spending my nights sleeping on the spare bed in my basement. It seems to be the only place that’s cool enough for me to actually get any sleep. Makes me a touch jealous of the friends I have who have basement apartments (you know who you are!). But the heat plays all sorts of hell on the life of someone with Diabetes.
I wrote a post on that very subject about two months ago, but with the extreme heat of summer in full swing it doesn’t hurt to provide some mild reminders. I reviewed an article posted by the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention that lists the following reasons why Diabetics are affected by the heat much worse than others:
- Nerve damage makes it more difficult for our bodies to cool, which can lead to heat exhaustion and stroke;
- Diabetics are prone to dehydration for a variety of reasons, including greater loss of fluids and frequent urination due to high blood sugars. Extreme heat will aggravate these symptoms and cause further dehydration, causing further blood sugar issues. Wash, rinse and repeat;
- Your body’s ability to use insulin will be affected by the heat, which means that you may need to alter your dosages and sensitivities based on this.
Obviously, the important preventative measures include sipping plenty of water consistently throughout the day and check your blood sugar often (unless you’re wearing a CGM, in which case just keep a close eye on it). Try not to work out in the extreme heat, at least not outside. And follow all the usual summertime protocol: wear a hat, apply sunblock and wear loose-fitting clothing in light colours. Whatever you can do to help beat the heat.
Last but not least, it stands to reason that high temperatures will affect most of your Diabetic equipment. This is especially true since most Diabetic equipment is powered by batteries, and they don’t do so well in the heat. High temperatures will cause batteries to work harder and can lead to leaks, failures but not least of all, dying quicker. Something to keep in mind, if you aren’t in the habit of carrying spare batteries. And if you use an insulin pump or carry around extra vials, bear in mind that insulin begins to break down when exposed to higher temperatures. This basically means that your insulin will turn into very expensive water, after a while.
Having Diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the summer. It simply means you need to pay closer attention to your health and well-being. And let’s agree that this would be the case for most people anyway. Stay hydrated and test your blood sugars frequently. And get some shade when you can. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go book an Alaskan cruise to get out of this heat… ☯