Despite its association with the carefree days of youth and the lazy months of backyard barbecues and pool parties, summer is not a season for patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes to rejoice. As I emphasize in this previous post about diabetic itch, diabetes, with its many complications and implications – is a matter of the utmost importance. It is an epidemic, soon-to-strike at least 10% of the U.S. population, and it is a chronic illness that does not enjoy a summer vacation.
For the 29 million Americans with diabetes, summer heat is not just a menace to the skin – the weather alone is not merely a matter of poor (albeit temporary) quality of life – it is very much an issue of life and death. From heat stroke and dehydration to ruined supplies of insulin from extreme temperatures and higher blood sugar levels, June, July and August are months of pain and misery for diabetics.
With regard to the skin, and concerning the phenomenon of "diabetic itch" in particular, the combination of desert-like conditions in states such as Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah and triple-digit temperatures worsens an already bad problem. The intense itching sensation, and the subsequent scratches and scrapes patients endure, makes summer one of the least inviting seasons in many of the country's otherwise most scenic places – the Grand Canyon, the mountains and foothills of Phoenix and Tucson, the majesty of Zion National Park and the beauty of Zabriskie Point.
I should add that summer on the East Coast, where I live and work, offers little reprieve for everyone because of irritants like mosquitoes and poisonous plants. All of which is why in my role as founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye®, I seek to help men and women suffering from skin problems that impact diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
I believe awareness (and the right organic resources, which fit in your pocket, purse, knapsack or hiking gear) is essential for a safe and healthy summer. Best of all, the recommendations I offer are simple and mostly free.
Start by making sure you have the supplies to combat summer heat. That means staying hydrated –drink plenty of water, and replenish any lost electrolytes – while also applying a powerful sunblock before you go outside.
It is all too easy to forget how hot it is, as your body tries to adjust to (and perspire as a result of) record-breaking temperatures. For someone with diabetic itch, who then suffers acute sunburn, the pain can be unbearable; the blisters can become infected wounds, and the bloodied patches can take a long time to heal.
My advice is, therefore, quite direct: Think before you act, and "know before you go," so to speak. Which is to say, read the weather report, calculate the "heat index" and do not needlessly expose yourself to danger. And, always consult your healthcare provider with any questions about your unique condition.
Equipped with the Right Equipment: Beating the Heat with Intelligence
By following these practical steps, and by equipping themselves with the right equipment, diabetics can beat the heat.
Most importantly, patients must ensure they have enough medication, that they know the effects of heat on insulin, and that they have enough glucose monitors and glucose monitoring strips at their disposal.
This rule of "Safety First" is smart, efficient and economical. It is also a potentially lifesaving measure too important to overlook and too urgent to dismiss.
With preparedness and determination, summer may be hot, but not deadly.
Be careful because it is, indeed, hot out there. WF
Posted on WholeFoodsMagazine.com 4/16/2015
This piece is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Speak to a healthcare provider to get more information about diabetes and any potential side effects.