Ask Dana: Simple Solutions to your Diabetes Dilemmas
I have had type 1 diabetes for over 20 years now and have not always had the best blood sugars. My diabetes has not always taken top priority. However, working from home the past few months and taking time to work on my health has allowed me to manage my diabetes much more than I have in the past. I feel really good! I have worked on my diet and exercise and insulin regimen. Is there a reason that I won’t be able to get better blood sugar management with my new habits after having so many years of bad habits?
– Stacey Brown, Detroit, Michigan
First of all, you are to be congratulated! It takes a lot of determination and grit to work towards changing lifelong habits. It sounds like you have experienced good results and nothing should prevent you from achieving better control of your diabetes. All of your health goals are achievable but do remember that diabetes management is a life-long journey. This is true for all persons living with diabetes, and, especially applicable to someone who has lived with the disease for over 20 years. You may find yourself impacted by something called “metabolic memory” or “legacy effect.” Studies have shown that people living with diabetes who had tighter control sooner after their diagnosis have lower risk for complications in the future. The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) was a long-term study that first showed the importance of well-managed diabetes to prevent long term complications. Even as participants in DCCT grew older and were diagnosed with other chronic conditions, they still benefited from early, intense diabetes management interventions many years later. However, people living with diabetes will always benefit from managing their diabetes and feeling good! As you most likely have experienced, improving your diabetes management has improved your energy, your mood and maybe even your attitude towards diabetes management in general! If you need additional help, we have a team of talented clinicians at IDS who can help you take your diabetes management even further and help you stay motivated. Keep up the great work!
I live in the South and we are experiencing a heat wave. The thermometer outside on my patio has shown temperatures over 90 degrees for the past few weeks. It also seems that my blood sugars are affected by this heat. Is that possible?
– Joe Kaling, Biloxi, Mississippi
The short answer is, yes, hot temperatures can impact your blood sugars and cause them to be either high or low. Dehydration can occur if you do not have enough intake of fluids while being outside. If you are not properly hydrated, a decrease of fluids can concentrate your blood and increase the concentration of sugar in your blood stream. This can lead to high blood sugars. Like a lot of things with diabetes management, the opposite can also be true; your body’s metabolism can increase in hot temperatures and this may affect how your body absorbs diabetes medications, especially insulin, causing low blood sugars. And, of course, heat can affect insulin itself causing it to be less potent at temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Whether you use an insulin pen or an insulin pump, it is important to keep your insulin close to room temperature (60-89 degrees Fahrenheit). You may need to store it in a portable cooler or your refrigerator if indoor temperatures are rising as well. Remember to stay well hydrated, check your blood sugars often and protect your diabetes medication and equipment to help your blood sugars stay managed when temperatures are high! If needed, also check with your healthcare team to determine if further recommendations can help you manage out-of-range blood sugars during the summer months.
Please submit your most nagging questions about diabetes, nutrition or wellness to firstname.lastname@example.org.