June 25, 2010

Is summer heat affecting your diabetes supplies?

Do you know what to do during the heat of the summer to protect your diabetes supplies and equipment? A recent survey points out that about 60 percent of people with diabetes are not aware of the effects of heat on their oral diabetes medications, glucose meters, and glucose test strips. It appears that a large number also treat themselves and their diabetes with a similar degree of disrespect.

Even the three reports out of the meeting of the Endocrine Society all focused on slightly different aspects of the report. First, Endocrinetoday dot com reported on the habits and lack of daily care by those persons with diabetes. Sciencecentric dot com emphasized the problems faced by people with diabetes have of becoming dehydrated and not know what to do. Finally Sciencedaily dot com almost duplicated Sciencecentric, but stated that one out of five people did not take heat precautions until temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. Although parts are the same, you should read each article.

Since the full report will not be published until September 2010 in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, most of the problems facing people with diabetes in the northern part of the US will have passed. I will commend them for putting out part of the details as summer begins. Yet every year, many people have the information available to them, but choose not to use the information until they have medical problems because of heat, or lose supplies, equipment, or medications to heat.

I blogged about heat/sun stroke part 1 (Apr 15) to part 6 (Apr 28) and know this may have been too early for some people to take seriously, but the heat of summer is here and we all need to be reminded again. Whether you live in Arizona where the study is conducted or in the northern part of the US, leaving your diabetes supplies in your vehicle on a hot day, will cause problems for your medications, testing supplies and equipment.

If you don't have coolers for carrying your insulin and diabetes supplies in for daily trips, you need to consider getting one. Also the Frio packs work well for protecting (from overheating and not freezing) your diabetes supplies in the summer and winter. Frio wallets can keep insulin safe for up to 45 hours. For wallets, just submerse them in cold water for five to fifteen minutes to activate. Frio Bags of varying sizes can also be purchased. Some drug chains carry them, but call beforehand. Or, search on line for Frio packs. These can be used for daily use to and from work, weekend daily excursions to your favorite park, and other trips.

For those of us with diabetes, we need to be aware that both insulin and oral medications are affected and can be rendered useless by heat. Heat will cause our test strips and meters to malfunction and quit.

The Joslin Diabetes Center also published “Five Tips for Caring for your Diabetes Supplies” They give excellent advice for caring for your meter, testing supplies, pump, and insulin plus being organized. I would only add for those with type 2 diabetes and not on insulin to take care of your oral medications and protect them from heat and freezing.

Care of your diabetes medications, supplies, and equipment is not something you will be able to ask your doctor about. Some may know, but this, like your diabetes is your responsibility as your doctor will not be with you when you forget and leave things in your hot car.

Now armed with the knowledge you need, get out and enjoy summer.