Summer is officially here, and for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D), this also means a lot of things to remember. Here are some tips and tricks for a beautiful summer.
Seven T1D to-do’s
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you manage your blood sugar during summer.
- Stay hydrated
This might sound obvious, but it is particularly important in the summer heat. Not drinking enough water might raise your blood sugar, which in turn will make you urinate more frequently and cause dehydration. Drink water regularly to avoid this vicious cycle.
- Check your blood sugar levels
Blazing heat, sunburn and spending more time outside can cause unusual blood sugar variation. Check your blood sugar levels regularly to get a clearer picture of how they are affected and what you can do to keep them as close to your target range as possible. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems are a good tool to help make this easier.
- Slather on the sunscreen
While everybody must protect their skin from dangerous UV rays, it is particularly important that people with T1D avoid sunburn, which needlessly cause additional stress to the body and can provoke blood sugar spikes. Make sure to use a sunscreen with FPS 30 or higher and to reapply it every two hours and after swimming or sweating profusely.
- Keep your (insulin) cool
Are you planning to go on a long car ride or spend all day soaking up the sun? Make sure to keep your pump away from the sun and to keep your insulin cool. Heat makes insulin less effective and can affect how the pump works. Did you know that there are tools that can help ensure this doesn’t happen?
There are various cases or pouches that can be used to keep insulin (vials, pens or insulin pumps) cool, even in hot weather. However, they do not replace a refrigerator.
Some absorb and release thermal energy depending on the temperature and cool themselves (e.g. BreezyPacks), for a period of 6 to 8 hours. Others are composed of crystals that turn into a cold gel when in contact with water (e.g. FRIO, Glucology). It is therefore sufficient to soak the case in water for the cooling to take effect. The cooling is active for 36 to 45 hours. When the case is no longer cold, simply soak the case again for 5 to 10 minutes to reactivate the cooling.
- Keep your supplies away from the sun
Keep your pump, your CGM and/or your test strips away from the sun to avoid any damage.
- Don’t forget the snacks!
With your blood sugar all over the place due to the heat and possibly a higher rate of physical activity (e.g., walking, swimming), beware of hypoglycemia sneaking in. When going on a hike or any summer outing, make sure you bring snacks and quick-acting sugar.
- Physical activity, yes, but… when the time is right
If you do physical activity outside, try to go at dusk or dawn when the heat has subsided to avoid unusual blood sugar variation and undue strain on your body. Also, remember that even if you work out when the temperature is cooler, you can still sweat. Humidity can damage your pump, and sweating can make it harder to feel hypoglycemia.
These tips and tricks can make all the difference and will hopefully help you to better tackle all the challenges that come with managing your blood sugar during summer.
Feel free to share your own tips and tricks with us!