Summer is the season when everyone has the chance to fell ill. However, diabetes patients are at higher risks. Those who are diabetes patients may find the summer heat and humidity more dangerous if they don’t take sufficient caution.
Though it doesn’t appear exceedingly hot and humid sometimes, the combination may be fatal. Usually, in less humid weather sweat evaporates and keeps the body cool. But in extremely humid climatic condition, sweat cannot dry and results in excess water loss from the body.
Excessive sweating leads to the risk of rising or fall in the Blood Glucose level (Hyperglycemia or Hypoglycemia) along with the electrolyte imbalance and water imbalance in the body resulting in dehydration, and other diabetes-related emergencies. As heat exhaustion affects elderly and children quite easily, recognising the signs of heat-related health issues and taking timely actions can limit further complexities.
Diabetes Scenario in India
Diabetes is the fastest growing disease in India while 72 million cases recorded in 2017. Moreover, the predictions are that by 2035, there will be a massive 109 million diabetes patients in India with the ubiquity of diabetes in adult Indians at 10.4%.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic state that can be managed at the primary stage by regulating lifestyle changes and medicine. The progression of Diabetes in advanced stages is controlled by Insulin add on with other medication.
4 Major Diabetes Risk Factors in Summer
1. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have a chronic complexity during summer. Chronic diabetes causes reduced physiological ability to keep a healthy temperature, which leads to a critical rise in body temperature during the summer.
2. Another diabetes associated complication Neuritis (nerve damage) affects multiple organs including the sweat gland. Affected sweat glands make it difficult for the body to maintain a healthy temperature inside while the weather is hot and humid.
3. Abnormality in Thermoregulatory ability is another complicated situation caused by diabetes and the following dysautonomia or autonomic neuropathy. It may result in cardiovascular dysfunction as well as hypoglycemia unawareness.
4. Diabetes also causes quick water loss from the body. Following dehydration, blood glucose level rises and leads to frequent urination. Furthermore, excess urination results in further water loss that is detrimental to a chronic diabetes patient.
Tips on Additional Diabetes Care in Summer
1. Avoid Excess Heat and Humidity: Though physical activity is key to manage diabetes, don’t indulge in outdoor activities in excessively hot and humid summer day. For outdoor activities choose the early morning or evening when the temperature is lower.
2. Change Eating and Drinking Habit: Avoid caffeine-rich drinks like coffee, energy drinks, sports drinks, as well as alcohol and soft drinks, as these may lead to more water loss and a spike in blood sugar level. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink more water to stay sufficiently hydrated. If you eat some of the popular summer staples of India and that is not good for a diabetes patient, balance your insulin dose accordingly with doctor’s recommendation.
3. Maintain Blood Sugar Level: Check your blood sugar level more often to make sure you are maintaining the precise sugar level despite the summer heat and humidity. As summer can distract your diabetes management routine, it may need to change in insulin dose during summer months.
4. Avoid Sun or Protect Yourself: As the heat-index can be up to 9oC higher at that time, wear a hat, cap, or scarf, carry an umbrella and apply sunscreen to protect yourself. Better if you can avoid direct sun, or else take the protective measures.
5. Wear Loose-fitting Light Coloured Clothes: Let your skin breath through your clothes. Wear light colours that absorb the least heat and retain normal body heat. Light coloured cotton clothes help in evaporating sweat quickly and, the loose-fitted dresses help the skin breath through it.
6. Park Car in Shaded Area: Try to park your vehicle in the shaded area as the temperature inside the car may get 3 to 5oC higher when parked in direct sunlight. Moreover, avoid sitting inside the car if you have to wait for a few minutes. Don’t leave aged people or children inside the car for long as well. If you need to wait, find a shade and bring everyone outside the car.
7. Make Your Family Members Aware and Knowledgeable: Keep your family members well-aware of the possible complications caused by diabetes during summer months. They can be alert on the observance of the smallest difference in your normal movement, response, or alertness. This minimum awareness helps families seek emergency medical attention and avoid undesired consequences.
8. Keep Your Diabetes Supplies Safe: Most of the diabetes supplies, like Diabetes Medicines, Insulin Injection and Pen, Glucometer and its Strips, are sensitive to heat. Hence, you need to take extra care while the storage of the supplies.
Never ignore how you feel when temperatures climb consistently. Keep eyes on the physiological changes, discomfort (if any), blood sugar level and adequate hydration. Consult your doctor if you feel unwell and unable to find the possible reason.