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Living with diabetes? Here are some tips on staying cool

HOT WEATHER: People living with diabetes that they may need to take extra care to manage their condition this week

THE MET OFFICE has issued a level three warning in response to the hot weather across the UK. The need to stay cool can be especially important for people living with diabetes.

Diabetes UK, the leading charity for people living with condition in the UK, is reminding those living with diabetes that they may need to take extra care to manage their condition this week, as the Met Office have warn people to stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, the hottest part of the day. The Met Office have issued a level three warning, indicating that temperatures will be staying above 30C during the day and 15C at night in parts of England.

Emma Elvin, clinical advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “Enjoying the sun is one of the things many people look forward to in the summer and on holidays. However, if you have diabetes it's important to take precautions to ensure that your diabetes remains well-controlled in this hot weather. If you are aware of the steps you need to take to manage your diabetes, then there is no reason you can't have fun in the sun like anybody else.”

Monitor blood glucose levels
People with diabetes will need to monitor their blood sugar levels more often and be ready to adjust their diet or insulin dose accordingly. Insulin will be absorbed more quickly from the injection site in warm weather, and this can increase a person’s risk of hypos (episodes of low blood sugar). On the flipside, long periods of inactivity in the sun can affect diabetes control, making blood sugar levels higher than usual.

Keep meters and test strips away from the sun
Extremes of temperature can also affect blood glucose meters and test strips. Keep meters and test strips as close to normal room temperature as possible and out of direct sunlight, but don’t refrigerate them as cold temperatures can also lead to misleading results.

Store insulin properly
If blood glucose levels are consistently higher than expected, it is worth considering whether insulin could have been damaged in the sun. Insulin, in the hot weather especially, is best kept in the fridge or a cool bag (taking care that it does not freeze). When damaged by heat, clear insulin generally becomes cloudy and cloudy insulin becomes grainy and sticks in the side of the glass. Insulin that has been exposed to bright sunlight sometimes has a brownish colour. Do not use insulin that shows these changes. People should speak to their GP or healthcare professional if they are unsure.

Look after your feet
People with diabetes-related neuropathy, may not be aware their feet are burning. Everyone with diabetes should be checking their feet daily for any changes, and in hot weather it is important to protect your feet against damage from the sun. Apply sunscreen and wear flip flops or shoes on hot ground.

Other top tips
When out and about in the sun, remember to:

· Wear long sleeves, loose trousers, a hat and sunglasses with a UV 400 label.

· Apply sunscreen 15–30 minutes before going out in the sun.

· Try to find some shade, particularly when the sun is at its hottest between 11am-3pm.

Keep Hydrated
When it’s hot you are likely to sweat more and therefore it is important to regularly drink water and keep hydrated.

Heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion can develop when the body finds it difficult to keep cool. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, tiredness, muscle cramps, stomach cramps and pale skin. As some of these could also be due to unstable blood glucose levels, it's important to test regularly. Heat exhaustion needs immediate treatment. Move to a cool place to rest and sip a cold drink. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to the more severe and potentially life-threatening condition heat stroke, so take action straight away. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, hallucinations, rapid breathing and convulsions, all of which require immediate medical attention.

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