Summer and diabetes
The holiday period is all about enjoying time with your family and friends, relaxing and having fun. As temperatures rise what better way to cool down than by going to the beach, the pool, a river or a water park?
As well as packing a picnic, drinks and sunscreen, people with diabetes also need to pack a couple of extra essentials to make sure they enjoy the day.
Tips to consider this summer if you are going to spend some time on the beach, at the pool, river or water park:
- Wear identification to alert people you have diabetes in case you get into trouble.
- Pack plenty of snacks so you can stay longer if you want to. Glucose tablets and gels can also be useful, most glucose gels come in waterproof packaging, so you can keep it with you in the water.
- Pack lots of water to drink so you keep well hydrated in the hot weather.
- don’t forget hypo treatment; glucose gel pouches are excellent as you can attach them to your swimmers with a safety pin when in the water.
- Wear protective footwear especially if at the beach or on rocky/rough surfaces. Thongs should be worn at public pools to protect feet from infections such as tinea.
- Make sure you swim in a well-patrolled area, never swim alone.
It is important to check your blood glucose levels regularly while swimming or being exposed to the hot sun:
- make sure your blood glucose levels are above 7mmol/L before starting any exercise, especially swimming.
- In addition to testing your blood glucose levels prior to exercise, you should also check every 30 minutes during exercise and within three hours after exercise.
- If you have type 1 diabetes check for ketones if your blood glucose level is over 15mmol/L or the upper limit your healthcare team has set for you.
Packing snacks and fluid for your day of fun is important:
- Aim for 15-30gms of carbohydrate for every 30-60 minutes of mild to moderate intensity exercise.
- Maintain fluid intake whilst swimming, around 150-250mls every 15-20 minutes.
If you are using an insulin or an insulin pump it is advisable to store the insulin or pump in a cool place out of the direct sunlight:
- Pack a cooler pack to keep your insulin or pump cool but not cold. We have a range of cooler packs from Frio and Medactiv to keep your insulin or pump cool this summer.
- Some pumps are waterproof, however if swimming in the ocean it is best to disconnect so the pump doesn’t accidentally get lost or damaged.
- Store the cooler pack out of direct sunlight (room temperature for insulin is 25 degrees.)
- You can disconnect your pump while swimming but blood glucose levels should be tested every hour during this time to ensure you are safe.
- Pack a small sharps container to dispose of any sharps that have been used.
- If you use a pump, pack an extra cannula set change just in case you need it.
- Pack extra hypo supplies/fast acting carbohydrates for the day.
- Remember hypos can occur 12-24 hours post exercise so check your blood glucose levels regularly.
- Keep up your fluids, pack plenty of water.
- Upper body exercise may cause blood glucose levels to drop more, especially swimming.
Summertime is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. So remember these tips and don’t let diabetes stop you enjoying the sun!