Problems facing people with diabetes in high weather temperatures from Diabetes UK.

18

NEWS

Hot stuff!

Diabetes UK's hot weather warning to people living

with diabetes in mid-July's heatwave.

With the Met Office issuing weather

warnings for extreme heat in areas of the

country for 17th July, Diabetes UK Cymru

put out advice for how people living with

diabetes can cope in the hot weather. If you have any

type of diabetes, or know someone with the condition, it's

good to be aware of these tips for staying sun-safe, in the

UK or anywhere else.

Check blood sugar levels

If you usually check your own blood sugar levels, do this

more often and be ready to adjust your diet or insulin

dose if you take insulin. If you plan on being active in the

sun, like going for a swim, eat some extra carbohydrate at

your meal before or as an extra snack. Check your levels

beforehand and have a sugary snack if your levels are low.

Keep something sugary to hand too, such as your usual

hypo treatment, just in case.

Keep meters and test strips out of

the sun

Extremes of temperature can also affect blood glucose

meter and test strips. If you use these, keep your meter

and test strips as close to normal room temperature

as possible and out of direct sunlight, but don't

refrigerate them as cold temperatures can also lead to

misleading results.

Store insulin properly

If you take insulin to treat your diabetes, keep a close

eye on how you store it as it should never get too hot

or it could be deactivated. If your blood sugar levels are

consistently higher than expected, it could be that your

insulin has been damaged if it's been left anywhere too

hot. Insulin, in the hot weather especially, is best kept in

the fridge or a cool bag (however, it must not freeze, as

that will deactivate it too).

When damaged by heat, clear insulin generally

becomes cloudy, and cloudy insulin becomes grainy

and sticks in the side of the glass. Insulin that has been

exposed to bright sunlight sometimes has a brownish

colour. Do not use insulin that looks like this. Speak to

your GP or a healthcare professional if you're unsure.

Other medications, such as tablets, should usually

be kept as close to normal room as possible. Check

the patient information leaflet that comes with your

medication for information on how to store.

Stay hydrated

If you're being active or just relaxing, everyone knows

that hot weather will make you sweat. This is your body's

natural way of cooling down, but you'll need to replace

the fluids. Drinking water or sugar free soft drinks will

help you to stay hydrated. Carry drinks with you and

make sure you have regular sips. Becoming dehydrated

increases the risk of hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic

syndrome (HHS) or Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Other top tips

When you're out and about in the sun, remember to:

• Wear long sleeves, loose trousers, a hat and sunglasses

with a UV 400 label.

• Apply sun cream to exposed areas of your body 15 to 30

minutes before going out in the sun.

• Always wear something on your feet. If you have

neuropathy, you may not be aware of your feet burning,

so wear sun cream and some sort of sandals or shoes

on hot ground.

Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, says,

"Sitting in the sun for long periods can affect your

diabetes because you're not being very active, making

blood sugar levels higher than usual. On the flipside, if

you take insulin to treat your diabetes, it will be absorbed

more quickly from the injection site in warm weather, and

this increases the risk of hypos. However, the important

thing to remember is that, if you are careful about

managing your diabetes, there's no reason you can't have

fun in the sun like anybody else."

www.diabetes.org.uk

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