Blood Sugar in hot weather
It’s easy to get in a flap when the temperatures soar and your blood sugars are all over the place. Ireland is enjoying an unusually long period of hot weather at the moment and as usual my blood sugars are affected by it. I am less sensitive to insulin when it’s hot (blood sugar stays high, which increases the risk of complications if not treated and also makes me tired and cranky). Some people with type 1 diabetes are the opposite (they become more sensitive to insulin when its hot, leaving them at risk of frequent hypos https://theartisandiabetic.ie/hypoglycemia-hypo/). Like all things T1 it’s not as simple as taking more or less insulin. What works one day won’t work the next or issues only affect a particular time of the day for a day or two and when you think you have that sorted it crops up at a different time.
These very basic tips help me reduce the impact the heat has on my blood sugars. You probably know them already but we all need reminding about the basic stuff.
- Keep your insulin cool, in a bag which is never left in the sun or in a hot car. If necessary use a Frio cooling bag or an ice pack wrapped in a towel placed with your insulin. If your insulin has been left in the car or out in the heat, use a new bottle or pen. When away from home in hot weather keeping your insulin out of the heat should be a priority, because you won’t be near your own fridge and will have to get an emergency supply if yours gets spoilt by the heat.
- Lots of cool drinks are essential to keep you hydrated and cool. Hydration is very important for blood sugars. I only get reliable results from *Libre when I am well hydrated. Being hydrated speeds up the movement of sugar from the blood to cell fluid, so the readings are more closely matched to blood sugar. That is my non medical description of it!
- I find it’s best to stay away from very carby food when the weather is hot. The higher the carbs the more insulin I need. Keeping all numbers (carbs and insulin) low makes blood sugar easier to manage. I can deal with an occasional break away from this but not every day. Dr. Bernstein said “Big inputs make big mistakes; small inputs make small mistakes.” The less variables the more stability.
- I change both my basal (background) and bolus (quick acting) insulins during very hot weather and go back to the previous dose when the weather cools or I notice that I don’t need as much insulin. Always consult your doctor before changing your dose if you aren’t used to adjusting it yourself. I was reluctant to add this to the post, but I have got messages from people to say they or their child are practically in a permanent hypo since the hot weather started. This is dangerous and needs urgent attention. It’s essential to contact your or your child’s diabetes nurse/educator for advice on either reducing the insulin dose or diet adjustment.
- Check for ketones if you have high blood sugar or feel unwell. Follow the guidelines given by your Doctor to treat ketones. Always seek medical advice if you are worried about your Diabetes.
- Always have quick acting carbs with you. My favourite at the moment is boring old Dextro tablets. They don’t melt or go off in pockets, bags or in the car. I am finished with using hot Lucozade and melted jelly sweets!
- Cooling off yourself helps a lot. Passing an airconditioned shop? Pop in for a browse and cool off! Keep air con on in the car. Even short periods of cooling off may help.
- By taking a few precautions you may be able to reduce the impact the heat has on your blood sugar, at least some of the time. Even though I follow these tips I still struggle a bit but not as much as I used to.
Enjoy the sun!
This article is my personal opinion and is not medical advice.
* FreeStyle Libre is a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which measures glucose in extracellular (cell) fluid which surrounds all cells in the body. Glucose comes from food that we eat and some is secreted by the liver. Lots of things contribute to blood glucose levels, but that is a discussion for another day. Our body digests food by mixing it with acids and enzymes in the stomach. The digestive process breaks down food containing carbohydrate (starch and sugar) into glucose. The stomach and small intestine absorb the glucose and release it into the bloodstream. It is at this point that blood glucose tests are performed using conventional meters for personal use by people with diabetes. From there glucose is distributed through cell fluid to the parts of the body that need it for energy. It is at this point that FreeStyle Libre measures glucose.