Those diagnosed with either Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes need special attention to avoid potentially serious health issues all year long. However, in the summer months, people with either type of diabetes need to be extra mindful of their condition as diabetes creates special sensitivities to the heat.
Diabetics have a higher risk of getting heat exhaustion, which is when people are exposed to heat for a long period of time without drinking enough water. Those with diabetes are also more sensitive to heat in general. And when the weather is hot and humid during summer months, diabetics are at an even higher risk for heat exhaustion.
Diabetes and heat intolerance
Diabetics often have trouble managing their blood sugar levels on hot summer days, too. This is because diabetics get dehydrated faster than people without diabetes and dehydration may make blood sugar levels go up.
Watch for signs of dehydration that include:
- Decreased urination
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Increased thirst
And severe dehydration symptoms that include:
- Dark-colored urine
- Excessive thirst
- Fast heart rate
- Low blood pressure
Should diabetics avoid the sun?
Diabetics aren’t more sensitive to the sun’s rays on their skin. However, getting a sunburn can actually cause blood sugar levels to go up.
The heat index can sometimes be as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit lower in the shade than in the full sunlight. For this reason, it’s usually best for diabetics to avoid sitting in the full sun for an extended period of time. This is especially true on very hot and humid days as well as in the heat of the day when the sun is strongest.
When exercising outdoors in the summer, people with diabetes should avoid exerting themselves in the sun in the hottest part of the day. Exercising in the early morning or in the evening when temperatures are lower is better. Or, exercise indoors in the air conditioning.
General summer tips for diabetics
Diabetics can take the following steps to watch their health during the summer when they’re enjoying the weather with family and friends.
- Check your blood sugar more often.
- Don’t drink anything with alcohol and caffeine.
- Don’t go barefoot, including at the pool or beach.
- Drink lots of water, even if you’re not thirsty.
- Use sunscreen so you don’t get sunburned.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes.
- Eat meals that are low carb and high in protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Managing your diabetes during the summer takes additional attention, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the season with family and friends. Learn about the diabetes services we offer at Bon Secours.