Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Essential Tips For Managing Diabetes During Summer Heatwaves

Temperatures are soaring, and heatwaves are becoming an unavoidable reality. April felt unusually scorching across India, with both small pockets and large swathes experiencing heatwave conditions, as reported by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Unfortunately, it seems 2024 is gearing up to be even hotter, building on last year's record-breaking temperatures. This trend isn't just a local issue; it's part of a global pattern that saw 2023 rank as the hottest year ever recorded. So, as the mercury climbs, staying cool and safe becomes more crucial than ever. 

Increased summer temperatures and heatwaves come with a unique set of challenges for people living with diabetes. Warm temperatures at times result in loss of fluids and salts from one’s body, leading to dehydration and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion often makes it more challenging to maintain blood sugar levels, which makes people living with diabetes more sensitive to high temperatures and humidity. Therefore, it's important to remain vigilant as heatwaves can disrupt daily routines and impact overall diabetes management.

Dr B Rajendra Kumar, MBBS,MD,MBA,Diabetologist, Dr Rajendra Kumar clinic, KGF ,Kolar , Bangalore said, “Maintaining a healthy routine is essential for managing diabetes, but the summer months often bring disruptions. Changes in daily habits can lead to lapses in following a diabetes-friendly diet or checking blood glucose levels on time. Additionally, during heatwaves, people living with diabetes are at a higher risk of dehydration, especially if their blood glucose levels are uncontrolled. To effectively balance blood sugar levels, it's important to consider measures like continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). CGM devices, compatible with smartphones, offer real-time monitoring even while on the move, preventing routine changes from compromising diabetes management.”

It’s vital for individuals with diabetes to keep blood sugar levels within the recommended target range (70 - 180 mg/dl) for a significant portion of the day, especially during the summer. One way to do this is by using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices, which provide information on glucose levels without requiring finger pricking. Such devices have metrics like Time in Range – and checking your readings more often is associated with more time spent in your optimal range, which can improve your glucose control.

Here are 4 simple steps you beat the heatwaves and keep your diabetes in check: 

Hydration is the golden rule: To prevent dehydration during heatwaves, ensure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, even if you're not feeling thirsty. Proper hydration not only helps regulate blood sugar levels but also flushes toxins from the bloodstream. People living with diabetes are more prone to dehydration due to increased water loss, especially during hot weather. Inadequate fluid intake can elevate blood sugar levels, as high blood sugar leads to increased urination, further contributing to dehydration. Although the amount of water one should drink depends on a number of factors like weight, age, physical activity and so on, on an average, a person should consume at least 2 liters of water per day.

Regularly Monitor Blood sugar levels: It is extremely important to keep a consistent check on your blood sugar levels during a heatwave.  Advanced sensor-based continuous monitoring devices like FreeStyle Libre make it easy for you to stay on top of your glucose trends round the clock, whether you’re working out or asleep. They keep a close eye on your glucose levels and provide accurate, real-time alerts if your fluctuations need attention, so you can go about your day without having to worry about a sudden blood sugar crash or spike. You should keep an eye on your readings and try to stay in the optimal glucose range for about 17 out of 24 hours each day.

Plan your exercise smartly: An essential step in diabetes care is an active lifestyle; however, it’s also necessary to protect yourself from sunburn and dehydration. Avoid venturing out when it’s too hot and opt for indoor exercises or yoga instead. You can exercise outside during early morning or late evening hours, but it's advisable to stick to an indoor gym or practice stretches at home during hot temperatures.
Eat healthy: It is completely normal to crave ice cream and slushies during the summer. However, people with diabetes need to be extra cautious and ensure they maintain a balanced, healthy diet that is suitable for their condition. Including plenty of high-fiber vegetables and leafy greens such as celery and brussel sprouts in one’s diet can help regulate glucose levels. One can also include citrusy fruits like oranges, lemons and aamla that are rich in vitamin C, in the daily meal plan, to help strengthen ones immune system.

Summertime is a time for relaxation and feeling carefree. However, for those with diabetes, it can be challenging to fully enjoy the season. By taking small and manageable steps to manage this lifestyle disease, you can take control of your health, live fully, and enjoy the season.

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