Forecasters are predicting high temperatures across the UK this week, so it's important to take precautions to ensure that your diabetes remains well-controlled in this hot weather.
Long periods of inactivity in the sun can affect diabetes control, making blood glucose levels higher than usual. On the flipside, insulin will be absorbed more quickly from the injection site in warm weather, and this increases the risk of hypos.
Monitor your levels
Douglas Twenefour, Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, said, "People with diabetes will need to monitor their blood glucose levels more often and be ready to adjust their diet or insulin dose accordingly.
"If your levels are consistently higher than expected, it is worth considering whether your insulin could have been damaged in the sun. Insulin, in this hot weather especially, is best kept in the fridge or a cool bag (taking care that it does not freeze).
"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 shows these changes. Speak to your GP or healthcare professional if you are unsure.
Meters and test strips
"Extremes of temperature can also affect your blood glucose meter and test strips. 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."
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 sunscreen to exposed areas of your body 15–30 minutes before going out in the sun
- If you have neuropathy, you may not be aware when your feet are burning, so apply sunscreen and wear flip flops on hot ground.
Heat exhaustion can develop when the body finds it difficult to keep cool. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, tiredness, muscle cramps, stomach cramps and pale skin. As some of these could also be due to unstable blood glucose levels, it's important to test regularly.
Douglas Twenefour advised, "Heat exhaustion needs immediate treatment. Move to a cool place to rest and sip a cold drink. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to the more severe and potentially life-threatening condition heat stroke, so take action straight away."
Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, hallucinations, rapid breathing and convulsions, all of which require immediate medical attention.
Douglas added, "If people are vigilant about their diabetes control then there is no reason they can't have fun in the sun like anybody else."