Diabetes: What You Need to Know to Beat the Heat

When it’s hot outside, you may need to make some changes to your diabetes management plan. Diabetes can change how your body handles heat. This means that people with diabetes are more susceptible to dehydration and heat exhaustion. Don’t forget that medications, equipment and supplies can be affected by heat. Make sure you are taking the right steps to manage your diabetes in the heat. 

Stay hydrated

In hot weather, glucose levels may be higher or lower than usual. When glucose levels are uncontrolled there is a higher risk for dehydration. Too often we only drink when we are thirsty.  If you are thirsty, you are already behind on fluids. In hot weather, drink on schedule--not just when thirsty. Drink water, which has no calories and no diuretic effects like with caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.  

Storing medications

All diabetes medications are sensitive to temperature changes and can degrade and lose effectiveness. Always check the bottle or package insert for specific information about temperature storage guidelines. In general, oral medications should be stored in a temperature less than 86°F. Insulin and other injectable diabetes medications should be kept in the refrigerator until opened. Once opened, they can be stored at temperatures less than 86°F for 28 days only (some medications differ so read the box or vial). If you have to carry medications with you in hot weather, consider a cold pack to keep them in an acceptable temperature range. If your glycemic control gets worse, think about if your medications were exposed to excessive heat. 

Diabetes devices and supplies

Glucose monitors, test strips, and insulin pumps have temperature ranges for accurate performance. Check your supplies and device for the specific temperature range. In general, pumps and glucose monitors may not be performing properly when temperature is more than 104°F. Don’t keep your meter or testing supplies in the car—always carry them with you. Carry a cold pack with you for your device and supplies if temperatures exceed the manufactures recommendations.   

Stay healthy by knowing how to manage your diabetes in the heat.

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