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Health Team

Diabetics need to monitor sugar levels more during summer

Posted July 8, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2010 6:20 p.m. EDT

— When temperatures rise, so do the risks for people with diabetes, doctors say.

Even the medications and tools they use to manage their blood sugar can be affected.

“You need to be aware that the insulin, the strips that you test your blood sugar with, the meter that you're using and oral medications – all can be affected by the heat. All these things should be kept at room temperature,” WakeMed diabetes educator nurse Rosie O’Hara said.

O'Hara said people with diabetes have an impaired ability to sweat which places them at greater risk of heat-related illness. So, drinking plenty of water is vital.

O'Hara also warns diabetics not to skip exercise, a cornerstone of their treatment.

“Make sure that you exercise either early in the morning, later in the evening or in air conditioning,” she said. “If you are outside in high heat, then you should probably limit it to an hour or less of exposure.”

Diabetics also need to be aware of the heat index, a combination of the temperature and humidity. As the body heats up, so does the blood sugar level, so diabetics need to check their sugar levels more often.