15 Practical Tips to Prepare for Summer with Diabetes

preparing for summer with diabetes, a girl holding a watermelon slice outside

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Are you prepared for summer with diabetes? Or do you question what all you should do to prepare? Summer with diabetes can be a really fun time. But it can also be a little more challenging with the hot days, insulin, higher body temperatures, overworked sweat glands, and various diabetes tech.

15 Practical Tips to Prepare for Summer with Diabetes

How to Prepare for Summer with Diabetes

In this post, I will be sharing 15 practical tips to help you prepare for this summer season with diabetes. Some of it you may be familiar with, and some you may not. But each of these tips are valid and worth considering as summer approaches.

1. Stay Hydrated in The Summer with Diabetes

This tip for summer with diabetes is something we should be mindful of throughout the year. It’s always important to drink plenty of fluids, but it’s especially important to drink enough water in warmer months. The more we perspire and the more fluid loss we have, the quicker we can become dehydrated. Glucose in our bloodstream can be more concentrated when we are dehydrated. Also, this can make insulin absorption slower, which means it takes longer to correct high blood sugar levels.

And if you’re wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) like I do, it may read inaccurately if you’re dehydrated. And that’s not good for anyone, especially if you choose to use a closed loop system.

So take extra care to fill up the container and drink plenty of water from it frequently while you’re outdoors in summer.

Woman outside in the summer drinking from a water bottle.

2. Wear Sunscreen

This one might go without saying in the extreme heat of summer, but did you know a sunburn can affect diabetes? Our skin is damaged and our bodies are stressed when we get a sunburn. Our bodies then release cortisol and, of course, that can affect our blood sugar levels.

There are also diabetes medicines that can be prescribed (mainly for type 2 diabetes) that can cause increased sensitivity to the sun as well. That means a sunburn can happen quicker in that case.

So lather up, and be sure to reapply as necessary. But if you do get a sunburn, be sure to treat it properly with aloe and drink enough liquids.

3. Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Did you know there are signs of heat exhaustion that are also signs of low blood sugar levels? This makes telling the difference between the two a potential challenge. Let’s look at the Center for Disease Control signs of heat exhaustion:

  • heavy sweating
  • cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • fast, weak pulse
  • nausea or vomiting
  • muscle cramps
  • tiredness or weakness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • fainting (passing out)

Now, I’ve never vomited or had muscle cramps with a low blood sugar. But I have had sweating, clammy skin, a fast pulse, weakness and dizziness. It’s important to know your body, and also know your blood sugar levels to know exactly what you’re experiencing. Let’s avoid a medical emergency!

diabetes in summer, know the signs of heat exhaustion

4. Don’t Overcorrect

Rage bolusing is never a good idea, but especially not with diabetes in the excessive heat of summer. When you rage bolus, or take more of an insulin dose than you may need to correct higher blood sugar levels, you may be creating a low blood sugar in the near future.

When it comes to the summer with diabetes, your blood sugar may be on the rise because of dehydration. You may not actually need insulin as much as you need a lot of fluid. Taking more insulin may create a dangerous situation. So consider hydrating first.

5. Keep Low Snacks Handy

When I’m anywhere outside, I typically keep a juice box or my glucose gummies handy. Glucose tablets are also a good source of fast-acting carbohydrates. And Smarties are a great idea to consider as well because they don’t melt in the summer heat!

You need to be prepared with low blood sugar treatment of some kind nearby. When your blood sugar is low, you don’t want to have to walk a long way to get what you need.

prepared for a low blood sugar with candy

More Summer Tips

6. Secure Your Tech in the Summer

If you are wearing an insulin pump or a CGM, be sure it is secured. This is especially true if you’re outside on a warm day and sweating, or if you’re swimming, also. Sweat and lots of water can encourage tape to loosen, which creates the higher risk of the tech falling off.

There are several options for overpatches for CGMs, including the ones that Dexcom provides for free in case you have that one. And there are other medical tapes you can use for pump sites as well. I’ve also heard that vet tape works well to simply wrap around the device.

7. Create Shade

When you’re out in high temperatures, it’s important to either find or create shade. And not just for yourself. Keep your blood sugar meter, test strips, pump, receiver, and phone out of direct sunlight.

Direct sunlight on a hot day can cause damage to your diabetes tech and other diabetes medications, and cause them not to work properly (or at all). So be sure to protect it in a cool place while you’re out and about.

creating shade with an umbrella in the heat of summer

8. Avoid Midday in summer with diabetes

One of the most sure ways to avoid much of what we have discussed already is simply to avoid being outside during the middle of the day. That’s the heat of the day during summer, and that’s the time we are most likely to have issues. So check the heat index for the hottest part of the day to be sure.

Plan your outdoor activities, walk, run, or hike for early morning or evening hours when the temperatures are cooler. Doing physical activity then, there will be less risk off issues to begin with.

9. Store Insulin Properly

The insulin being stored to use in your pump is fine from room temperature up to 86 degrees F while it’s in use. However, refrigeration is recommended for insulin not in use. But doing that might be tricky on a day out or on a long trip.

Thankfully, we don’t have to rely solely on an ice pack and refill coolers any more. We have a ton of options to help with this. For example, this Frio Insulin Cooling Case (below) keeps insulin cool without refrigeration for at least 45 hours. There are insulated backpacks as well. Do a quick google search for “insulin cooling case” and you will get loads of choices!

And while we’re at it, please know you cannot fix affected insulin once it’s gotten too warm. The effectiveness will be lower, and there’s no getting it back. You’ll need to have a new bottle of insulin instead. So be sure to keep it out of full sunlight and never (never!) leave it in a hot car.

Be prepared for summer with diabetes with an insulin cooling case
Frio Cooling Products

10. Check Frequently in summer with diabetes

In summer with diabetes, you will simply need to check your blood sugar more often. If you’re using a meter, that means more finger poking. If you’re using a CGM, that means keeping your receiver or phone nearby for frequent check ins.

Blood sugar levels can fluctuate in hot temperatures, and we simply need to monitor more closely. As I mentioned above, some symptoms of heat exhaustion can be mistaken for hypoglycemia. So it’s important to know your blood sugar levels.

11. OVER PACK

I’m probably the queen of this one. If I think there’s even the slightest chance of needing something while I’m out, I will grab two of them!

But this is important for people with diabetes because you don’t want to be left stranded without the supplies you need. Be sure to pack extra low snacks, testing strips, site changes, CGMs, and all the other things you’re used to using.

In case you’d like to have a diabetes bag for your things that you can just keep stocked and grab it on the way out, there are a ton of options out there — like this sling backpack that has a gel pack cooling pouch and place for a water bottle.

Sling Backpack from Sugar Medical
Sugar Medical

12. Keep tech Dry in summer with diabetes

While we tend to have excessive sweating in the summer and drop water from water bottles, it’s important to keep our insulin pumps and such dry. Keeping a small towel in your diabetes bag is a great idea to help with this.

Also, it’s important to keep your pump away from your body in case you are hot outside in the summer. Your body heat can increase the temperature of the pump, and that’s not good. Consider putting it in a pouch or pocket so it’s not in direct contact with your skin.

13. Talk with your Doctor

Reach out to your doctor, endocrinologist, dietitian, healthcare providers, or whoever you need on your medical care team to make this summer transition as smooth as possible with your diabetes management. They are there to help diabetic patients take the proper precautions for summer with diabetes in a plan that is specific to you and your needs.

endocrinologist doctor visit

14. Make Small Changes

This tip makes me think of kids and the transition from school to summer (and then summer to school in the fall). So often with a change in routine, our insulin needs will change. And that’s no different going into the summer months.

Many of us are more active in the warm weather and longer days. And a higher activity level is a good thing for our overall blood sugar levels and our insulin sensitivity. But my caution is to make the insulin dosage changes (with your doctor or healthcare team) in small increments. Slow and steady wins the race, and we can avoid the blood sugar roller coaster this way too!

15. Have Fun in Summer with Diabetes!

Keeping a preventive focus will help you to have fun. When you are prepared for a summer with diabetes, you won’t be worried. You will have all the diabetes supplies you need, and it will all be taken well care of.

Now it’s time to enjoy some fun in the sun!

a girl holding a watermelon slice outside

What’s Next?

If you found this post helpful, would you please let me know? I would love to hear from you! Also, what would you add to this list?

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NOTE: I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietician. I’m not a doctor or endocrinologist. Nothing here should be taken as professional medical advice.

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15 Practical Tips to Prepare for Summer with Diabetes

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Welcome to my Devotions on Diabetes website! Thanks for stopping by. I've lived with diabetes for 30+ years. And I'm here to provide you with a heaping helping of encouragement while you deal with diabetes and navigate this chronic illness with God by your side.

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