Imagine a condition like diabetes wherein blood glucose control depends upon internal factors of the body and mind, and external factors too! And, you are expected to keep a tight glycemic control.
If someone came and said that you had to wear a weatherman’s cap now in order to avoid blood sugar variation wouldn’t it be infuriating? Alas, that might be true.
Why you need to be a Weatherman
Our idea of a weatherman is that of a person who comes at the end of the news, stands in front of a map and often mispronounces names of odd towns and cities where there is a thunderstorm. They make funny bloopers and are only noticed when there is a serious category four hurricane.
But, it makes perfect sense for people with diabetes to notice changes in weather and become weathermen or women! And, there is a strong reason for that. For people with diabetes, blood glucose control is the objective of their treatment. This is done with the help of diet, exercise, and medication.
Many diabetics adhere to their treatment and never miss out on a single dose of their medication. They make it a point to get their daily exercise and take proper diet. Despite all this, they experience low or high blood sugar levels.
This can be very frustrating since they are unaware of the underlying reason for the swings in their values. If only they are aware that the underlying reason for the fluctuation of blood sugar levels might be due to seasonal changes, they might have taken proper precautions. And, that is why they need to be weathermen!
Seasonal Changes and Blood Sugar Fluctuations
Apart from stress, illness, and infections, seasonal changes are also known to cause significant fluctuations in the blood sugar levels. The values also change as per the climate the individual lives in.
Summer and Diabetes
Scorching heat, water shortage, and air conditioners. This is a typical summer season for Indians. But for people with diabetes, summer with sizzling temperatures might be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken.
First of all, the heat and high temperature affect the metabolism of the body. Due to the perspiration in the summer months, the body tends to lose fluids and this leads to dehydration. This can cause high blood sugar levels.Moreover, when there is lesser amount of fluid in the body, the kidneys get lesser amounts of blood flow and in turn, they work less effectively.
Hyperglycemia leads to dry mouth, weakness, confusion, abdominal pain, and shortness of breath. If left untreated, it can even result in a diabetic coma.
Higher temperatures cause dilation of blood vessels and in some patients, this leads to enhanced or quicker absorption of insulin leading to low blood sugar symptoms.
How to manage Diabetes in summer?
• Stay indoors during peak temperature times.
• Stay hydrated.
• Reduce the use of sodium-containing foods.
• Reduce the intake of caffeine.
• Avoid alcohol.
• Avoid sodas and energy drinks.
• Follow your diabetes food chart.
• Exercise early in the morning or late in the evening.
• Store your medication and insulin supplies in a cold and dry place.
• Wear protective clothing along with sunscreen as sunburns increase insulin resistance.
• People with diabetes are more prone to heat strokes. Be aware of the symptoms. Dizziness, fast
heartbeat, muscle cramps, hypoglycemia, confusion, and fainting. Seek medical help immediately.
• It is advised that you consult your doctor before the beginning of the summer season to adjust
your medications and your insulin dosage.
Winter and Diabetes
Indian winters are generally not harsh,but the northern regions experience lower temperatures and people with diabetes have to be vary of changes in their blood sugar levels during the winter season.
With the arrival of winter, there is an increase in the incidence of cold, and flu among people. In people with diabetes, infections causes high blood sugar levels.
In the winter seasons, the blood vessels of the hands and the feet tend to constrict. This leads to lack of (or slower) blood supply to those parts and might lead to a condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon. This condition is characterized by abnormally low blood sugar symptoms, and causes numbness in the toes and fingers.
How to manage Diabetes in winter
• Maintain proper hygiene and prevent infections.
• Keep moving around. Maintain your exercise regimen.
• Protect your feet by wearing proper diabetic footwear.
• Keep your hands warm and dry.
• Keep your medication and insulin kit safe and at room temperature.
• Test your blood glucose levels periodically.
• Maintain your diabetic diet plan.
Monsoon and Diabetes
Though unpredictable, India has a monsoon that tends to wreak havoc and damages roads. For people with diabetes, waterborne infections, foot infections, and blood sugar fluctuations can pose difficulties.
Some diabetics might be prone to respiratory infections like bronchitis due to weakened immune system. People who have had waterborne infections might have dehydration and so it is important to keep hydrated.
How to manage Diabetes during monsoon
• Drink purified water.
• Maintain hygiene to prevent infections.
• Avoid eating outside.
• Avoid oily foods.
• Reduce the consumption of meat.
• Maintain your diabetes diet menu.
• Do not walk in the rain.
• Wear your diabetic footwear.
• Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent foot infections.
By being conscious of the changes in the weather, one can identify changes in the body and adjust oneself for better health. For a person with diabetes, this isall the more important as numerous factors tend to influence blood sugar levels. And, it is only with good blood sugar control can one control diabetes.