As temperatures in the UK are soaring this week, Diabetes UK is reminding people living with diabetes to be extra vigilant in the hot weather.
To help, the charity is sharing four top tips on how to stay safe and well when the weather gets warm:
1) Monitor blood glucose levels more often
Long periods of inactivity in the sun can affect diabetes management, making blood glucose levels higher than usual. However, for those who use insulin to treat their diabetes, insulin will also be absorbed more quickly in hot weather, increasing the risk of low blood glucose levels episodes, otherwise known as hypos.
This is why it is important for people with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels more often and be ready to adjust their insulin dose when necessary.
2) Keep meters and test strips away from the sun
Hot temperatures can also affect blood glucose meters and test strips; these should be stored as close to room temperature (15-25 degrees C) as possible and out of direct sunlight, but not refrigerated as cold temperatures can also lead to misleading results.
3) Keep your insulin in the fridge or a cool bag
If blood glucose levels are consistently higher than expected in the hot weather, it may be that your insulin has been damaged in the sun. Insulin, particularly in hot weather, is best kept in the fridge or a cool bag (taking care that it does not freeze).
4) Apply sunscreen on your feet
People with diabetes-related neuropathy – or nerve damage – may not be aware their feet are burning, so people with diabetes should regularly apply sunscreen, and wear shoes or sandals – never bare feet. If ignored, minor injuries can quickly develop into infections or ulcers, the main cause of diabetes-related amputations.
Peter Shorrick is Midlands and East regional head at Diabetes UK.
He said: “Enjoying the sun is one of the things many people look forward to in the summer – whether at home or on holiday – but with the right precautions there is no reason people with diabetes can’t enjoy the hot weather like anybody else.
“That’s why we want to remind people living with the condition to take extra care, check their glucose levels more regularly and keep a close eye on their feet. It’s important to also use high factor sunscreen and suitable sunglasses. Following these simple steps will help people with diabetes safely get the most out of the summer – come rain or shine.”
For more on managing diabetes visit www.diabetes.org.uk