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Diabetes and Sun Safety

Summertime has arrived. While everyone enjoys the fun in the sun, persons with diabetes should be extra cautious during the summer months. Extreme temperatures and overexposure to sunlight can wreak havoc on blood glucose control. Here are a few simple tips to successfully manage diabetes, while enjoying the summer months.

Exposure to high temperatures can cause excessive sweating, leading to dehydration. This can affect glucose levels, as well as medication absorption. People also tend to be more physically active in the summer, which can reduce the need for insulin. This could cause episodes of hypoglycemia for persons receiving insulin injections. Adjustments on medication may need to be made by your healthcare provider during these more active months.

A sunburn can cause added stress on a body, and result in elevated glucose levels (which can further dehydrate a person with diabetes). Extremes in temperature changes can also affect diabetic testing supplies (meters and test strips) as well as oral and injectable medications (insulin syringes, pens, and pumps).

To maximize your enjoyment of the summer months, be sure to use appropriate sunscreen; thus, reducing the risk of sunburn. Sunglasses and wide brimmed hats, as well as light colored clothing are other ways to reduce your risk of sunburn. Be sure to stay hydrated; bring extra fluids with you when participating in outdoor activities. Better yet consider exercising indoors, in air conditioned areas when possible.

Avoid strenuous activity during peak sun exposure hours (usually between the hours of 10am to 2pm). Discuss with your physician the possibility of more frequent blood glucose testing during these more active months. Adjustments in medication may be necessary if you are more physically active. Finally, be sure and store properly all diabetic testing supplies and medications. Avoid leaving supplies in automobiles that quickly overheat in summer months; also, avoid storing supplies in coolers or “on ice” as extreme temperature variances can destroy the medication effectiveness.

These simple suggestions should help everyone have a safe, enjoyable summer. For more information on diabetes management, check out the following links for additional summertime health tips.

Stay safe and have a great summer!

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