Summer can be a time for lots of outdoor activities and for relaxing with family and friends. But the warmer months also pose special challenges to people with diabetes; for example, high heat and humidity can affect your ability to control your blood sugar levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a set of recommendations to help people with diabetes prepare for the higher temperatures.
- Drink water before you get thirsty. Thirst is a sign that you are already somewhat dehydrated. Avoid sugar-sweetened soft drinks. If your healthcare provider has recommended restricting your water intake, talk with them about what to do if it gets hot.
- Dress to stay cool. That means choosing loose-fitting, light-colored, lightweight clothing. Don’t get burned. Use sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen if you need to spend time in the sun.
- Choose cool places. If you don’t have air-conditioning at home, try to spend time in air-conditioned public spaces such as the public library or the mall.
- Exercise carefully. Choose the coolest times of day—early in the morning or later in the evening—for physical activity, or exercise in air-conditioned places.
- Learn about your medications and medical devices. One of the challenges facing people with diabetes during times of high heat is that high temperatures can change the functioning of medications and devices that help you manage your blood sugar.
- Learn to recognize symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening emergency. People with diabetes are more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke and have a higher number of heat-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths than people without diabetes.
If you experience any of these symptoms during a time of high heat, stop any physical activity, get to a cool place, and drink water. If your symptoms worsen or persist for more than an hour, or if you have a fever of 104°F (40°C) or higher, seek immediate medical attention.