Living With Type 1 Diabetes? You Can Still Have Fun In The Sun...
The summer season is a time for being outside, exploring, and maybe even catching some sun. But, are there things that people living with type 1 diabetes should be aware of to care for their health.
In this article, we provide tips for how you should care for your health in the summer heat.
The Heat and Your Type 1 Diabetes
One of the things that define the summer months is the increased temperature. After months of bundling up for the cold winter and cool spring months, the summer months are often seen as an opportunity to get outside and soak up the warm weather.
Naturally, people sweat more in warm weather and, if they aren’t drinking enough liquids, they have an increased risk of dehydration1. However, people living with type 1 diabetes may increase their risk of dehydration if their glucose levels are consistently high.2
Some of the symptoms of dehydration in people living with type 1 diabetes include:2
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Dark yellow urine
- Low blood pressure
If you are feeling any of these symptoms, it is essential that you get out of the heat and sun, drink water, measure your glucose level and take insulin if needed, and call your diabetes healthcare team.
Tips for Managing Type 1 Diabetes in the Summertime
There is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the summer if you are living with type 1 diabetes. It is important, however, to plan ahead and exercise precaution to avoid dehydration, protect your feet, and monitor your glucose levels.
- Water: Take a full bottle of water with you wherever you go and find out where you can access more water if you run out. Aim to drink more than you are accustomed to since you will likely be losing more water through sweat. If you tend to forget to drink water, you can use a water reminder app on your phone.
- Rehydration drinks: Ask your diabetes healthcare team about approved rehydration drinks in case you do experience dehydration.
- Meals and snacks: Make sure to eat meals and snacks at the intervals established in your type 1 diabetes management plan. Take snacks with you in case you get caught up while you are out and about.
- Clothing: Wear light, breathable clothing, but try to avoid the sun hitting your skin directly. Light or moisture-wicking long-sleeved shirts or blouses, hats, and linen pants can help you stay cool while also protecting you from the sun.
- Sunscreen: Whether you are living with type 1 diabetes or not, you should always wear sunscreen when you are outdoors to protect your skin from sunburn.
- Footwear: For people living with type 1 diabetes, getting a small scrape on their foot could be very dangerous as poor circulation in the arms and legs, called peripheral artery disease (PAD) is common and a small cut could potentially lead to a life-threatening infection.3 Wear closed shoes that are comfortable and support circulation.4
- Device management: Monitor your glucose more closely than you normally do because the heat and changes in normal food routines could alter your glucose levels. If you manually measure your glucose levels, you may want to measure it more often. If you are using an insulin pump, speak to your healthcare team about features on the pump such as temporary basal rates or different targets that might eb useful during warmer weather.
The summertime is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the weather and the opportunity to wear lighter clothing. By knowing how the heat may affect your health and management of type 1 diabetes, you can plan to make choices that protect your health and wellbeing.
As you are planning for holidays and outings this summer, speak to your diabetes healthcare team about how you can prepare to avoid dehydration and stay safe.
1. Hoffman M, Stuempfle K. Is Sodium Supplementation Necessary to Avoid Dehydration During Prolonged Exercise in the Heat?. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(3):615-620.
2. People with diabetes have an increased risk of dehydration as high blood glucose levels lead to decreased hydration in the body. https://www.diabetes.co.uk. Diabetes. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/dehydration-and-diabetes.html. 2019. [Accessed March 2021].
3. Papatheodorou K, Banach M, Bekiari E, Rizzo M, Edmonds M. Complications of Diabetes 2017. J Diabetes Res. 2018;2018:1-4.
4. Jain A, HC A. Auditing the usage of therapeutic footwear in diabetic foot patients through Amit Jain's extended SCC' classification for therapeutic footwear. Medicine Science | International Medical Journal. 2020;9(2):437.