TRAVEL FOR DIABETICS IN SUMMER

What are the major challenges?

In the summer season, in India, in particular, is a time where people go on vacation to hill stations, there are marriages in families and thus the diet goes for a toss, the season of delicious mangoes and of course not to miss are the ice creams and cold drinks, laced with sugar. The blood glucose level goes out of control and may bring complications due to diabetes. People avoid exercising due to extreme weather conditions adding further to poor control of blood glucose.

Why diabetics are more at risk in summer?

Certain diabetes complications such as damage to nerves affect your sweat glands thus your body can-not cool effectively. This can lead to heat exhaustion. This is a medical emergency Diabetics tend to get dehydrated which leads to a rise in glucose in the blood. This makes urination more leading to more dehydration. High temperatures can change the metabolism of certain drugs like insulin. This makes it imperative for the diabetic to estimate blood glucose more frequently

What about clothing and footwear during summer?

Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured, cotton clothing in summer. Wear sunscreen and a hat when you are outside. Sunburn can raise blood glucose. Do not ever walk outside your house barefoot in summer This can lead to scalds and foot infections which travel in summer? It is safe provided that your blood glucose levels are under control and you are well-conditioned for physical activity. Please take clearance from your doctor before your travel. Those with cardiac complications, hypertension and kidney or eye complications due to diabetes should be extra careful. If you are going to climb hills or are going to a high altitude, a detailed cardiovascular examination including a stress ECG may be required. Management of Diabetes during extremes of temperature poses a huge challenge to the health provider as well as to the patient. Summers are no exception. Scientists suggest that hot weather can lead to health issues for people with diabetes. unfortunately can even lead to gangrene. Always wear cotton socks and loose footwear.

What about sugar cane juice, beer, cold drinks, mangoes and ice creams and sweets in summer?

This is the commonest cause of losing control over diabetes and can invariably invite trouble. Avoid them as far as possible. Frequent blood glucose estimation can help you in these situations. Using artificial sweeteners is safe for diabetics. However, these should be avoided in pregnancy. Is it safe for diabetics too

How to store insulin, glucometer and other drugs in summer or during travel?

Do not store them in direct sunlight as in a car. If you are travelling keep insulin and your tablets and glucometer in a cool area. There is no need to put insulin on an ice pack. Glucometers, insulin pumps, and blood glucose measuring strips should not get exposed to direct sunlight.

What about diet in summer for diabetics?

Please drink plenty of water during summer. If you have heart or kidney issues consult your doctor.
Avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine in drinks. Make sure that your salt intake is adequate. Please take instructions from your doctor if you have hypertension, heart failure or poor kidney limitation.

Which medications to carry if you are travelling?

Make sure that you have an adequate supply of insulin and your other regular drugs in case you are travelling for many days. Basic medications for cold, cough, fever, vomiting, giddiness and diarrhoea should be with you. Mosquito repellents, sanitisers, and medications for migraine or travel sickness should be at hand. Do not forget your glucometer with an adequate supply of strips and your digital blood pressure measurement instrument. Have a pouch of sugar in case you encounter hypoglycaemia.

When not to travel in summer in case you are diabetic?

In case you have severe uncontrolled blood glucose, recent dialysis or cardiac surgery or angioplasty or foot infection it is safer not to travel. Make sure that your blood glucose and blood pressure are in control before you travel or plan an exercise schedule. Be extra careful in summer if you are diabetic and particularly so if you are travelling. Please enjoy your travel and holidays after taking certain basic precautions.

Categories : Diabetes

Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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