There’s a reason there are so many songs about summertime. Without a doubt, it’s the most popular season of the year.
Things just seem more relaxed in the months between June and August… more laybacked. But as lovely as that is, it can backfire on us too.
Because it’s easy to slip into bad habits and stop paying attention to our health. And for those of us with chronic conditions, that can be dangerous. Or, in extreme conditions, even deadly.
So while I WANT you to squeeze every little last bit of fun out of summer, I ALSO want you to continue to take care of yourself too. And that’s especially true if you have diabetes.
Because it turns out that the warm-weather months can be especially hard on you.
5 surprising summer dangers for those with diabetes
Summer is hiding some surprising dangers for diabetics. In fact, even the CDC warns that when temps reach 80 degrees (check), and humidity rises to 40 percent (check), folks with diabetes need to be on high alert.
Keep reading for five summertime dangers diabetics need to guard against.
1. LOW blood sugar:
I know, most folks battling type 2 diabetes are focused on keeping HIGH blood sugar down. But surprisingly, during the summer months, you need to pay closer attention to low blood sugar too.
High temps cause blood vessels to expand. This leads to insulin getting processed faster. And as a result, your blood sugar can tank on you.
Be on the lookout for signs of hypoglycemia, including shakiness, irritability, anxiety, and fatigue. And be sure to head inside and wait about 20 minutes to cool down before taking insulin.
If you forget my 20-minute rule for fun in the sun, diabetic or not, you could be in danger of getting a sunburn. If you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader, you already know the drill.
The safest “sunscreen” of all is to seek out some full shade after 10 to 20 minutes in the sun. But if you have diabetes, you need to be EXTRA vigilant. Sunburn can trigger a stress response that sends your blood sugar soaring. So if you accidentally burn, be sure to keep a close eye on your glucose levels.
If you want some extra protection, don’t just slather on any old sunscreen, either. As I explained in a recent report, cancer-linked chemicals are found in far too many of these products. Click here for the latest details and to find out how to pick out a safer sunscreen.
Over time, diabetes doesn’t just damage our organs. It can also do a number on our glands. And that includes your sweat glands. That damage can cause them to be less efficient, putting you at a higher risk for heatstroke.
Now I know ads for antiperspirants insist we should do everything possible to prevent sweating. But the truth is, sweating is the main way your body regulates its temperature. In other words, it’s VITAL that you sweat enough when it’s hot to cool your body down.
Since your sweat glands might not be operating at full capacity anymore, you need to look for other ways to keep cool as the temperatures rise. When you’re outdoors, seek out some shade. Sip on cool drinks. And take indoor breaks whenever you can in front of a fan or even better in air conditioning.
Related to the heatstroke danger I just covered is another hot-weather risk we all face. But while dehydration can strike any one of us during the summer months, folks with diabetes need to be extra vigilant.
You see, when your blood sugar is elevated, your kidneys have to work extra hard. They try to purge your body of that excess glucose by making more urine. And when you add those extra bathroom trips to any excess sweating you’re doing, it’s easy to see how dehydration can sneak up on you.
See yesterday’s Healthier Talk for some tips on battling dehydration.
5. Damaged diabetes supplies:
Getting too hot, or being exposed to direct sunlight for too long, can cause blood sugar monitors, strips, and diabetes meds to become less effective or not work as expected. So if you’re going to be spending some time outdoors in the summer heat, be sure to plan ahead.
Pack your diabetes supplies in a small lunch-sized cooler with a cold pack to keep everything cool. Just be sure to wrap everything in a kitchen towel first to keep it safe.
It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. So if you’re diabetic, let’s make sure it STAYS that way. Take extra care to protect yourself from these five dangers all summer long.