Summer Tips

Here are some tips for managing diabetes in the summer time:
  • Keep hydrated. Dehydration, or the loss of body fluids, can happen on these very hot summer days whether you have diabetes or not. If you have diabetes, dehydration also can occur when blood glucose is not under control. When blood glucose is elevated, this can lead to increased urination. To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of caffeine-free fluids such as water, seltzer or sugar-free lemonade.
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion, especially if you are working or exercising outdoors. People with diabetes and other chronic diseases like heart disease are more susceptible to overheating. Symptoms include: feeling dizzy or fainting; sweating excessively; muscle cramps; skin that is cold or clammy; headaches; rapid heartbeat, and/or nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, move to a cooler environment, drink fluids like water, juice or sports drinks (based on your healthcare provider's instructions) and seek medical attention.
  • Exercise in a cool place such as an air-conditioned gym, or outdoors early in the morning or later in the evening, when temperatures outside may be more moderate.
  • Check blood glucose levels at least four times per day, and more often if you are not feeling well. Remember that heat can cause blood glucose levels to fluctuate. Carry plenty of water and snacks.
    Store your blood glucose meter, strips and insulin in a cool, dry place. Do not store insulin in extreme temperatures. Never store insulin in the freezer, in direct sunlight, or in a car. Do not place insulin directly on ice. Examine your vials of insulin. Clear insulin should remain clear. NPH insulin should not have
    any clumping or "frosting" on the vials.
  • Swimming: Check blood sugar before swimming.  If blood sugar is <150, give 15 grams of carbs without insulin for every 30-60 minutes of activity. 

 Additional Tips For Insulin Pump Users:

  • For insulin pump users, excessive perspiration can be a problem in hot weather or during strenuous activities. This can loosen the adhesive securing the infusion set, the part of the device that attaches to your body. If perspiration is a problem, try using a spray of antiperspirant on the insertion site after your usual skin-preparation routine. Others have success with skin-barrier preparations such as Mastisol, IV prep or Skin-Tac.
  • The pump housing provides some insulation from the heat, but if you are concerned about heat, you can use a protective pouch with a small, cold gel pack placed inside the pouch as a way to protect your insulin from the effects of heat. If you are spending an extended amount of time in the sun, cover the pump with a towel to protect it from prolonged direct sunlight. Disconnecting your pump for up to an hour is another option, but if it is disconnected for a longer time, you will need to talk to your health care provider for dose recommendations.
-Ashley Atkins, RN, MSN, CPNP