Winter Diabetes Advisory - Diabetes and Winter Weather
The cold weather and winter holidays can bring special challenges to people with diabetes. Here are some tips for staying well this season:
1) Stay warm and well. Dress appropriately for the weather, wearing layers. Beyond bundling yourself up, you should also make sure your blood glucose meter and other diabetes supplies are protected from the elements. If youre spending much time in the cold and snow, purchase an insulated pack or fanny bag to keep your meter warmed up and accessible.
2) Ward off winter weight gain. Between holiday treats and inclement weather that cuts into your exercise routine, winter can mean an extra 5 to 10 pounds for many. Stay active by planning alternative exercise options now if structured fitness classes arent an option for you, even regular laps inside the local mall are good for staying active and keeping your blood glucose under control. Wearing a pedometer can also help you get enough activity even if you stick close to home.
3) Keep toes toasty. Diabetes-related circulation and nerve problems can mean icy cold feet for many. Dont use hot water bottles or heating pads to stay warm in bed if you have neuropathy. Buy several pairs of loose, seamless socks to keep your feet snug in bed.
4) Stay hydrated. Cold weather outside and forced air heating systems inside make dry skin and eyes a common winter problem. Apply a good, alcohol-free moisturizing lotion liberally after bathing to keep skin moist. Artificial tear drops can help combat dry eye. You should also keep your inside well-hydrated if youre out skiing, snowman building, or enjoying other outdoor activities, as dehydration can raise blood glucose levels.
5) Dont stress over the season. Stress often raises blood sugar levels, so make your holidays less hectic. Overextending yourself turns holiday joy into holiday obligations, so keep your schedule and your shopping list reasonable. Theres almost nothing more stressful than overspending make a budget and stick to it.
6) Get immunized. If you havent yet gotten your Flu Shots, get one now. People who have diabetes are six times more likely than the general population to be hospitalized with influenza complications. Pneumonia vaccination is also recommended for most people with diabetes; your doctor can tell you whether or not you need a follow-up pneumonia vaccination if youve already had one.
7) Test! Dont guess. Dramatic changes in temperature can mean a change in blood glucose trends. As the season changes, test often and talk to your doctor about adjusting your treatment routine accordingly to keep your diabetes in good control.
8) Handwashing. Perform more frequent handwashing during this season when there is more hand-shaking with persons who might unknowingly transfer their respiratory viruses to you. Be especially careful with persons who have active respiratory tract infections (coughing, sneezing). One does not need to be obsessive about it, just more cautious.9) Eat well. Consume hot and easily digestible foods and beverages with higher calories, like warm milk, sooup, oatmeal, and cooked vegetables. Remember, alcohol accelerates the loss of body heat because it dilates blood vessels, so manage your alcoholic beverages wisely.
10) Keep the home fires burning. When it comes to your dwelling, especially for seniors, keep the home environment warm but well ventilated. Do not overload electricity supply.
11) Take care of the elderly. When the weather gets cold, seniors are susceptible to developing a reduction in their body temperature more easily, as a result of decreased ability in temperature control and a decrease in subcutaneous fat. An excessive drop in body temperature can lead to hyporthermia. If you know of a single elder living alone with diabetes and/or other chronic illnesses and complications, give him/her a call or pay a visit.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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