Summer Survival Tips for Diabetics


When it comes to summertime weather and activities, people with diabetes have a lot to consider. Heat, high humidity, and uncontrolled blood sugar can slow down the body’s cooling system, leading to dehydration. Diabetes and Nutrition Education Supervisor Terri Brennan shares her top tips for enjoying a safe, healthy, and fun-filled season while avoiding potentially life-threatening conditions.

Beat the Heat

– Drink plenty of sugar-free fluids throughout the day. Limit drinks with caffeine and alcohol as these tend to cause more fluid loss through urination.

– Watch for signs of dehydration like thirst, dry mouth, decreased urine output, and dizziness.

Avoid the 

– Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which will block both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of at least 30. Apply at least 30 minutes prior to going outside.

– Reapply sunscreen every two hours, and cover any wounds with a bandage to protect from bacterial infection while outdoors.

– Never go barefoot and avoid open-toed sandals, this will protect your feet from sunburn and injury, and it’s recommended to wear water shoes in and around the pool and on the beach.

Work it Out

– Exercise in a cool place such as your home or gym, and continue to hydrate.

– Plan outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are more moderate.

– Wear a medical ID for identification in case of emergency.

– Check blood sugar before activity and again on breaks, and always keep snacks and fast-acting carbohydrates such as glucose tablets or juice with you in case your blood sugar drops.

– Plan activities with someone that knows you have diabetes.

Manage Medicine and Supplies

– Avoid exposing insulin to temperatures above 86° F. Extreme temperatures can also affect the accuracy of meters and test strips.

– Store insulin in an insulated pouch to keep it from overheating, and store meters and strips inside the meter case in a cool dry place to prevent damage.

Balance Your Plate

– Choose lean grilled meats instead of fried, and limit your intake of breads, rolls, chips and dips.

– Eat plenty of vegetables. Grilling vegetables such as squash, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus and tomatoes can be a great low carb, low fat side at a barbeque.

– Remember to watch the portion size, but if you want a high-fat or high-calorie item such as a dessert or potato salad have a smaller portion.

– Raw vegetable with low fat dip for snacking is always a good choice. Avoid mayonnaise based dips and sauces.

– If you take insulin, try to stick to your regular meal time to help maintain good blood sugar control.


Prepare Your Pump

– Excessive sweating can be a problem for pump users. Try using an antiperspirant on the infusion site prior to insertion to help tape stick better.

– Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation about immersing your pump in water.  Some pumps are waterproof, others are only water resistant.

– Protect your pump and infusion set from heat, sand and water by storing it in a plastic bag and placing in a cooler. This will protect your pump and keep the insulin from overheating.

– Attach the safety cover that comes with each infusion set on the insertion site to protect from sand.

– Remember pumps and CGM should not go through the x-ray machine at airports. They may go through the metal detector, which may require inspection by security.

Learn more about the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Clinic and the National Diabetes Prevention Program.



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