For people living with diabetes, high temperature can be a challenge as it raises the risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Everyone sweats more than normal in the heat, which is the body’s natural cooling process. Evaporating sweat brings the body’s temperature down but for people who have been living with diabetes for a long time or have uncontrolled sugar levels, this regulatory system is not very efficient.
Many are on prescription medicines like diuretics and sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors to promote urination, which accelerates dehydration.
“High glucose levels also promote urination leading to acute dehydration. Frequent changes in temperature, like when a person moves in and out of an air-conditioned room, also puts pressures on the heart and the kidneys of people with diabetes and hypertension,” said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman of the Fortis C-DOC Centre for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology.
Precautions for people with diabetes to counter dehydration
· Drink plenty of water: Hot weather, diabetes, and prescription medicine can make you severely dehydrated, so it is important that you keep drinking water throughout the day. Avoid sugary carbonated drinks or alcoholic beverages, which lead to water loss and may get you further dehydrated.
· Avoid extremely hot conditions: Avoid travelling outdoors in places with extremely high temperatures like Gujarat or Rajasthan during the peak summers, says Dr Misra. Also, keep yourself confined to home or office spaces on days when the temperature soars. Do not step out unless absolutely necessary. If you do need to go out, drink plenty of water.
· Clothes: Wear loose-fitting, light coloured cotton clothes that will keep your body cool.
· Check your sugar levels: Even among diabetics, those who have had the disease for over a decade or have accompanying chronic conditions like heart or kidney disease, are at a higher risk of dehydration and heat-related injuries. They must ensure that their sugar and blood pressure levels are stable after heat exposure. People at risk must check their parameters after they come back in from the heat, said Dr Misra.