Heat wave: bathing fun and barbecuing fun - what diabetics have to watch out for

Heat wave: bathing fun and barbecuing fun - what diabetics have to watch out for

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Increased health risks in summer heat: This is what diabetics should pay attention to now

Large parts of Germany still have extremely high temperatures. In order to stay healthy and fit despite the heat, people with diabetes should pay particular attention to some things. Health experts have tips on how to keep glucose levels under control when bathing and barbecuing.

High temperatures can be stressful

Large parts of Germany are still affected by a strong heat wave. The high temperatures can be particularly stressful for people with diabetes. Many of them also suffer from cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, and they are at increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. In addition, older people in particular drink too little on hot days or choose unsuitable drinks to quench their thirst. This is pointed out by the non-profit organization diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid. The experts also have some tips for swimming fun without hypoglycemia.

Do not expose yourself to unusual loads

According to the experts, people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke than those with healthy metabolism.

If hypertension is added, the risk increases tenfold.

"Cardiovascular patients should definitely take care of themselves and not be exposed to unusual stresses," says Professor Dr. med. Thomas Haak, board member of diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid and chief physician at the Diabetes Center Mergentheim.

"It's also better to postpone physical activity in the evenings or mornings when it's cooler."

If the metabolism is also poorly adjusted and the glucose level is permanently high, the risk increases even further.

"We advise people with diabetes who are insulin-dependent to check their glucose levels more often on hot days, because in addition to high levels of sugar, too low values ​​can occur," explains Professor Haak.

On the one hand, insulin acts much faster in high summer temperatures, on the other hand, lifestyle factors such as exercise and nutrition also play a role when hypoglycaemia occurs.

Hypoglycemia remains slightly undetected in water

If you are looking for refreshment in the lake, swimming pool or sea, you will soon forget the time in the cool water or those underestimated underestimate their energy consumption when pulling trains, playing water polo and more.

In addition, hypoglycemia can easily go undetected in the water if, for example, a possible tremor in the hands is incorrectly attributed to the water temperature or a feeling of dizziness is due to the fluctuating movement during water sports.

"That's why the following also applies here: It is better to check the glucose level more often than usual and adjust the amount of insulin if necessary to feel safe," recommends Professor Haak.

It is important to dry your hands well beforehand because water can influence the result of the measurement. Especially in very cold water, energy consumption increases due to the greater loss of body heat and exercise.

If spontaneous hypoglycaemia occurs, glucose helps, ideally in liquid form.

Insulin pump can be taken off before swimming

Diabetics who wear an insulin pump can take it off before swimming. According to the experts, the cannula, which is inserted into the adipose tissue of the skin, remains on the abdomen - protected by a waterproof catheter plaster.

"Only when the glucose level is between 120 and 180 mg / dl can the insulin pump be disconnected," explains Professor Haak.

At a lower value, patients with diabetes should have a small carbohydrate snack before jumping into the water. However, if the glucose level is too high, help an extra dose of insulin.

In addition, the diabetologist recommends not exposing insulin or pen or pump to direct sunlight and taking it with you in a cool box / bag or thermos.

However, the insulin must not be in direct contact with the cooling elements. The following also applies to insulin pumps, test strips, blood glucose meters and medication: Protect against strong sunlight and store them in a clean, dry place.

Drink enough

But there is more that diabetics should watch out for during the hot period.

As the organization diabetesDE - Deutsche Diabetes-Hilfe writes, many people end the hot days with steak and sausages from the grill, as well as cold beer, punch or cocktails. Some people do not drink enough or drink the wrong liquid.

"This threatens dehydration, especially in the case of poorly controlled diabetes," says Professor Haak.

Alcohol aggravates the loss of water. In addition, from a blood alcohol level of 0.45 per mille, the release of sugar from the liver is impaired, and hypoglycaemia can occur.

That is why diabetesDE recommends alternatives such as mineral water, unsweetened herbal and fruit teas or juice spritzers made from fruit juice and water to quench your thirst.

As a rule of thumb, adults should drink at least 1.5 liters a day and even more if they sweat profusely.

Drinking regularly is important, especially in the elderly, where the thirst sensation subsides. A slice of lemon, some fresh ginger or fresh peppermint spice up mineral water and also convinces drinking muffle. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid: bathing fun and barbecuing fun during the heat wave - this keeps the glucose level under control, (accessed: 28.07.2019), diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid

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