NEW DELHI: Chronic conditions such as diabetes can become tougher to manage in summers. Extreme heat causes blood glucose levels to fluctuate drastically, apart from leading to dehydration and exhaustion.
Unless one takes adequate precautions, this can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition requiring medical assistance.
Speaking about this, Dr Sanjay Kalra – Consultant Endocrinologist, Bharti Hospital Karnal, said, “Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes impair the body’s ability to adjust to the rise in temperature in summer. Nerve damage, an associated complication of diabetes, can affect nearly every organ in the body, including sweat glands making it difficult for the body to cool down as the mercury rises.”
Diabetes can cause the body to lose water quickly. In the absence of sufficient hydration, this can raise blood glucose levels, causing frequent urination – all of which can be detrimental. In higher temperatures, body’s insulin requirements can also vary making it even more necessary to test blood glucose more often and adjust the insulin dose accordingly.
Speaking on these lines, Dr M Udaya Kumar Maiya, Medical Director, Portea Medical said, “Hot weather and the resultant increase in temperature can adversely impact people living with diabetes. It can affect the body’s ability to produce and use insulin. If the diabetic treatment includes insulin, dehydration reduces blood supply to the skin and, therefore, less absorption of injected insulin dosage. Dehydration can cause blood glucose levels to rise and lead to frequent urination. If adequate precautions are not taken, one can even experience a heat stroke. It is extremely important for people living with diabetes to increase their fluid intake in summer. For those who use insulin, the injection site should be kept as close to normal temperature and well hydrated as possible. It is also imperative to constantly monitor your blood sugar levels in this weather. Also, insulin is heat sensitive, and proper protection of the medication from heat is important; if not the doses administered may be sub optimal.”
A major concern in this weather for those living diabetes is the risk of blood glucose levels rising or falling, leading to hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Understanding this and the signs of heat exhaustion and taking timely measures can prevent complications.
“People living with diabetes are affected by changes in temperature more than the average healthy population. Individuals with poor glycemic control and those affected by diabetes-related complications are particularly at risk. It is imperative for them to keep a track of their blood glucose levels, which tend to fluctuate with a rise in temperature. Lower skin blood flow and decreased sweating responses in diabetics can lead to problems with cardiovascular regulation and glycemic control,” said Dr. Minal Vohra, Medical Advisor, BeatO.
In those living with diabetes, one thing can lead to another. Only overall management can keep complications at bay. Some other tips are as follows.
· Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine. Not only do they cause water loss but also a spike in blood glucose levels.
· Check your blood glucose before, during, and after you’re active. You may need to change how much insulin you use.
· Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
· Don’t go barefoot. Even a small infection can do more harm if not checked on time.
· Don’t store insulin or diabetes medicine in direct sunlight or in a hot car.· If you’re traveling, keep insulin and other medicines in a cooler. Don’t put it directly on ice or on a gel pack, however.