It’s summertime, and the living is easy. And it’s really no wonder why summer is the most popular season of the year.
Things don’t seem as rushed. Everyone is a bit more laid back. And folks just seem friendlier somehow.
But we all need to be careful that easy living doesn’t slip into unhealthy living. Since, let’s face it, there IS such a thing as too relaxed.
Diabetic? Beware of hidden warm weather hazards
And if you’re diabetic, you need to be even more vigilant than the average bear. Because summer presents some hidden dangers, you need to know about.
In fact, the CDC says once the temps climb to 80 degrees and the humidity reaches 40 percent diabetics need to be on alert.
Following are six summertime dangers every diabetic should be aware of…
1. Foot damage:
When you’re diabetic, you need to put extra effort into protecting your feet. Elevated blood sugar levels make you susceptible to damaging ulcers. And because you’re slower to heal, a small problem like a cut can turn into a big one quickly.
Then there’s diabetic nerve damage, or neuropathy, a common condition for diabetics which can cause numbness in your feet. Neuropathy can mean you don’t even feel an injury when it happens. Which is why you need to resist the urge to go barefoot, despite the warming temperatures.
When you kick off your shoes the reduced sensation in your feet leaves you vulnerable to burns from hot sand or asphalt. And any small nick from a sharp pebble or shell could result in a major infection.
Whether you’re knocking around the house, or headed outdoors, you should always wear shoes to protect your feet.
2. Low blood sugar:
If you’re diabetic, you likely spend a lot of time focused on avoiding high blood sugar. But in the summertime, you need to expand your thinking and be on the lookout out for low blood sugar too.
Heat can trigger your blood vessels to expand. This then causes your body to process insulin faster, sending your blood sugar levels crashing.
One of the most obvious signs of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is sweating. But for obvious reasons you can’t rely on this signal during the summer months when you’re sweating anyway. So be on the lookout for these other signs of hypoglycemia instead…
And be sure you step inside for 15 to 20 minutes, or find a cool spot to bring your temperature back down, before taking insulin.
All of us are at risk for sunburns in the summertime. But for diabetics a sunburn can present an extra danger.
Sunburns trigger a stress response in your body. And this can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Be on guard against sunburns, wearing protective clothing and moving to the shade after 15 or so minutes in the sun.
If you should still accidentally burn, be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels extra carefully. And be on the lookout for any signs of elevated glucose.
4. Heat stroke:
Just as diabetes can lead to organ damage, it can also cause damage to your sweat glands. And sluggish sweat glands mean they can’t do their job effectively.
Despite what antiperspirant commercials would have you believe, sweating is necessary. It’s the primary way your body cools itself. And when you can’t cool down you’re at real risk for overheating and heat stroke.
When temperatures rise, make sure you’re staying cool. Air conditioning, fans and cool drinks can help. And if you are spending time outdoors head for the shade.
When your blood sugar is running high, your kidneys try to rid your body of the excess glucose by making more urine. This can lead to dehydration. Combine that with the sweating you do in the summertime heat, and you have dehydration double-whammy.
Even worse, you can find yourself stuck in a dangerous loop as the dehydration itself causes your blood sugar levels to climb even higher.
In the summertime, it’s important to monitor your hydration. With the higher temperatures, you need be sure to drink more than you typically do during the cooler months.
6. Damaged meds and supplies:
Your diabetic meds, blood sugar monitor and strips are more fragile than you might realize. Getting too hot, or being exposed to direct sunlight for too long, can cause them to become less effective or not work as expected.
If you’re going to be out and about in the summer heat, bring along a small lunch sized cooler with a cold pack in it and a kitchen towel to wrap everything up in.
Go ahead and take it easy this summer. Just don’t take a vacation from taking care of your health when you do. Be sure to protect yourself from these hidden summertime dangers for diabetics.