July 14, 2011

Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses This Summer

I hope that you are enjoying your summer, but if you have diabetes, are you taking the precautions necessary to continue enjoying your summer? Some of us have already had some record breaking heat problems and more are expected yet as summer progresses towards fall.

United Health Group's Diabetes Prevention and control Alliance (DPCA) is alerting people and offering some tips to help people with diabetes prevent serious, heat related illnesses. As a person with diabetes, and having had heat stroke as a teenager, I know most of the tips and problems that can happen. Do I need to review these – yes – as each year since developing diabetes, I take time to make sure that I am prepared. You should too!

This reminder from United Health Group is one of the better reminders and as such I urge you to read it. They offer the following seven tips or safety precautions.

1. Be prepared to check your blood glucose levels more often as you change your activity level and know that the heat can affect your body's insulin needs.

2. Please avoid sunburn. Use the sunscreens liberally as sunburn can cause blood glucose level to increase.

3. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Dehydration adds to the stress and affects your blood glucose levels.

4. Do your best to remain cool and if possible take more breaks – preferably in air conditioned surroundings and if possible exercise in air conditioned areas.

5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in high temperatures. In addition to raising your blood glucose levels, they can increase the risk of dehydration for people with diabetes.

6. This is IMPORTANT! Keep medication and diabetes supplies as cool as possible, away from direct sunlight, and preferably in a type of cooler. High temperatures and direct sunlight can cause medications and supplies to break down and be less effective.

7. Know the signs of heat exhaustion. If you or someone you know has diabetes and experiences any of the symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. In these circumstances, always place safety first.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists many of the signs for heat exhaustion - heavy sweating; paleness; muscle cramps; tiredness; weakness; dizziness; headache; nausea or vomiting; and/or fainting.

I have written blogs previously and it would not hurt to review some of them as well.
The first one is here and the second blog refers to many of my prior blogs. Enjoy your
summer safely!

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