Looking after your Diabetes in the Hot Weather

Enjoying the sun is a given during the summer. However, the hot weather can bring with it hazards for individuals living with diabetes.
Take extra precautions to ensure that your diabetes and wellbeing stay under control during the long, hot summer days.

Keep your Feet Safe

Warmer weather means more time spent outdoors, playing sports, swimming at the beach and wearing open toed shoes. All of these activities can put your feet at greater risk of sustaining an injury, so it is important to take extra care in keeping them protected.

Take precautions such as inspecting your feet before and after exercising, not walking across hot sand or roads barefoot and treating any cuts or abrasions as soon as they occur. If you experience any injury to your feet, be sure to seek help from a medical professional.

Remember, it is always recommended that individuals living with diabetes have annual foot check-ups from a healthcare professional.

Heat, Insulin, Testing Strips and Meters

If you use insulin to treat your diabetes, you will need to be cautious of how you store it during the warmer days. Insulin is to be stored at temperatures no higher that 30o degrees, and no lower than 5o degrees.

If your insulin appears to be discoloured, or has solid particles, it will need to be discarded. Remember to never leave your insulin in a car on a hot day or stored directly on ice. To keep your insulin at the right temperature use a cooling pack or Esky, but never store it directly on ice.

Exposure to extreme heat can also compromise the accuracy of blood glucose monitors and testing strips. Be extremely mindful to never leave you meter, strips or insulin in direct sunlight, or in a hot car.


Be Careful of Heat Stroke

During the summer, the risk of developing heat exhaustion increases. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, tiredness, muscle cramps, stomach cramps and pale skin. As some of these symptoms are similar to hypoglycaemia, it is important to remain vigilant.

Never assume the heat is the only thing responsible for these symptoms, and test regularly to ensure that your BGLs are not low.

Marian_BoilerPlate.jpgMarian is a Diabetes Educator and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes WA.

 

Top training tips!

The HBF Run for a Reason is less than a month away! Have you signed up?

Join the Diabetes WA team (external link). Donate to the Dash for Diabetes WA team (external link).

Santa Maria3

Has the HBF Run for a Reason snuck up on you? Don’t worry, it’s not too late to start training!

1# Slow and steady wins the race!

My main tip would be to start low and go slow. In other words do not jump in the deep end! Slow progressed training will go a long way to preventing injury and making your training more enjoyable. It may feel too easy at the start but it is important to build a good foundation for your training before increasing distance and intensity. It will also mean that you can ‘hold’ your fitness for longer.

#2 Look after your body

Make sure you find good, comfortable shoes and don’t try new shoes on race day! Looking after your feet is important, especially when you have diabetes.  People living with diabetes may also be at greater risk of tendon injury. Our tendons like a consistent, steady load. In other words try not to ‘spring’ anything on them! Regular exercise, progressed slowly, will help reduce your risk of injury. Also try stretches like this:

marian stretch

#3 Good technique is worth it!

Good running technique can make running much more enjoyable and help to prevent injury. You may find maintaining these techniques takes a little time, but keep persisting – it is worth it!

  • Run tall– think of yourself as having a string attached to the top of your head that is pulling you upwards. Straighten out between your hips and your ribs. Tuck your chin in slightly.
  • Lead with your hips- It doesn’t need to be exaggerated, but keeping your hips forward will encourage hip extension and a more powerful stride.
  • What should I do with my hands?- Relax! Try not to hold them stiff or hold the tension through your shoulders.
marian running
Like this!

#4 Be prepared for race day

During the race keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure you have your diabetes supplies with you. This is especially important if you have type 1 diabetes or insulin requiring type 2 diabetes. Your testing kit and hypo snacks are essential.
  • Make sure you test before, after, and even during the race if you can.
  • Don’t pour water over your head at drink stations! It can be tempting but it will get your shoes wet and increase your chance of getting blisters.
  • Keep hydrated!

Once you’ve had that amazing experience of running down the finisher’s chute, make sure you take a moment to get some carbs into your body so that you can start replenishing your muscle energy stores and prevent hypoglycaemia. If you have type 1 diabetes be sure to keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels later that night as you may be at greater risk of hypos.

marian pointing

Fast Tips:

  • Having trouble running tall? Try practising running with your hands on your head until you get the hang of it.
  • It’s always a good idea to chat to your doctor or exercise physiologist to make sure it is safe for you to start training.
  • Monitor your feet for any blisters or callus’. Talk to your podiatrist if you notice any changes.

More:

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Marian is a Diabetes Educator and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes WA.

 

 

Your top 3 diabetes questions answered: #3

Diabetes WA educator Marian Brennan takes us through the top 3 most asked questions on the Diabetes WA Information and Advice Line (1300 136 588).

#3: “I am going travelling. How can I look after my insulin?”

travel and insulin image.jpgHave you put travel in the ‘too hard basket’? Holidays are an important way for us to relax and take a break from our busy lives. Unfortunately diabetes has to come with us on our holiday, but this shouldn’t stop you from being able to enjoy yourself. If planned well, there is no reason you cannot enjoy a holiday around Australia or overseas!

There are many challenges when travelling with type 1 diabetes, however one of the most common questions would have to be:

 How and where do I store my insulin?

Insulin that is in use needs to be kept at room temperature and can be safely kept at this temperature for about a month. Spare insulin should be refrigerated.

Do not expose insulin to:

  • Direct sunlight
  • Temperatures above 30°c
  • Temperatures below 3°c
  • Do not freeze insulin or put it on ice.

So how do you regulate the temperature? Insulin travel wallets or cooling pouches are the answer! These wallets keep insulin at optimum temperatures for up to 45 hours with no refrigeration needed – just water! You can buy them on the Diabetes WA online shop (external link).

When travelling by plane, it is important to keep your insulin and other diabetes supplies in your carry on luggage. This is because the temperature of your regular luggage is not regulated and it will likely exposure your insulin to extreme temperatures, which will cause it not to work effectively.

insulin tube

Accessing insulin

Don’t rely on being able to access insulin overseas. It is very important that you take more insulin and supplies than you think you’ll need. Bring any prescriptions for insulin and other medications that you have. It is a very sensible idea to get a detailed letter from your doctor detailing type 1 diabetes, your insulin requirements and any other relevant medical history. In some overseas countries, taking your prescriptions or a letter from your doctor to an emergency department will help you secure insulin in an emergency situation.

For further tips on planning your holiday:

Marian header

Marian is a Diabetes Educator and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes WA.

Your top 3 diabetes questions answered: #2

Diabetes WA educator Marian Brennan takes us through the top 3 most asked questions on the Diabetes WA Information and Advice Line (1300 136 588).

#2 My GP told me I have pre-diabetes. What is this and what do I do?

So, do I have diabetes or not?

Undeclared condused

Pre-diabetes (Impaired Fasting Glucose and/or Impaired Glucose Tolerance) is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet at the level where type 2 diabetes is diagnosed. Pre-diabetes affects more than 2 million Australians over the age of 25.

The good news is that you do not have type 2 diabetes, and you are now in a position to prevent or delay onset of type 2 diabetes. The Bad news is that you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

Where to from here?

Look at this as a your chance to walk away from type 2 diabetes!

The possible complications of type 2 diabetes are not nice, to put it mildly. Type 2 diabetes puts you at increased risk of blindness, heart attacks, kidney disease and lower-limb amputations.

However research shows that 58% of people with pre-diabetes are able to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with healthy lifestyle interventions. That’s more than half!  

So what can – and what can’t –  you do about it?

Apple, pear, tape and glucometer

Risk factors that you CAN’T change

It is important to remember that some people will be at higher risk of type 2 diabetes than others, through no fault of their own. You can’t change:

  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Being over 40 years of age
  • Being of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Melanesian, Polynesian, Chinese or Indian subcontinent descent
  • Being a woman who has had gestational diabetes or who has polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Having a history of heart disease.

Risk factors that you CAN change

However the following risk factors can be changed or improved!

  • Being overweight: having a waist measurement over 80cm for women and over 94cm for men
  • Being physically inactive
  • Not following a healthy eating pattern
  • Smoking
  • Having high cholesterol or blood pressure.
HAYT9053
Programs like My Healthy Balance can help reduce your risk!

Healthy lifestyle goals such as aiming for five serves of veggies a day and getting 30-45 mins of exercise a day will go a long way in helping you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Having trouble getting motivated? Diabetes WA has healthy lifestyle programs to help you reduce your risk!

  • Walking Away From Diabetes. This program helps people at risk of type 2 diabetes, avoid a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
  • SHED-IT. This weight loss program is made by blokes, for blokes. Shed that grabbable gut without eating like a rabbit.
  • My Healthy Balance. This is a FREE online, healthy lifestyle program.

Or contact me or one of our other diabetes educators on DIAL on 1300 136 588.

Marian header

Marian is a Diabetes Educator and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes WA.

Your top 3 diabetes questions answered: #1

This week Diabetes WA educator Marian Brennan takes us through the top 3 most asked questions on the Diabetes WA Information and Advice Line (DIAL).

#1 What should my blood glucose levels be?

Do you ever find yourself wondering, why am I putting my poor little fingers through all of these finger pricks? I have all the numbers, but what do they mean?!

Generally, this is what to aim for ;

levels
Click here for more info.

But keep in mind that this is approximate. Some people ask ‘why was my neighbour told to aim for one number and I got told something different?’ But the truth is target levels will be slightly different for everyone.

The real question: what levels are right for you?

Talk to your GP or diabetes educator about what you should personally be aiming for. Some people who are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes might be encouraged to aim for lower numbers. But if you are on insulin or taking certain types of medications such as Sulphonylurea your targets may be a bit higher. Seniors who are at risk of hypoglycaemia and falls, may also have different targets.

Close-up of a woman taking a blood sample from her finger with a glaucometer

What does it mean if I am out of my target range?

Firstly – it’s ok, you’re not ‘failing’! Lots of things can impact on our blood glucose levels and it is normal for our levels to fluctuate. Some reasons could be:

  • Food
  • Stress
  • Exercise
  • Illness
  • Medications
  • Alcohol

This is a why we self monitor – life is busy and things change! Whether you are trying a new food or starting a new exercise regime, monitoring your BGLs will help you see how these changes impact on your levels. Once we know what is affecting our BGLs we can decide what we may need to do to manage fluctuations.

For more info:

  • Blood glucose monitoring fact sheet.
  • Our MeterSmart program will help you find and manage your ideal blood glucose target range.
  • Contact me or another diabetes educator on DIAL 1300 136 588

Check back on Tuesday for the #2 most popular question on DIAL.

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Marion is a Diabetes Educator and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes WA.