Protecting Your Diabetes Supplies during the Summer Months

For many people, summertime means time at the pool, days at the beach, backyard barbecues, and outside fun with family and friends!  During the hot summer months, you want to make sure you protect your diabetes supplies and equipment.  Heat can have negative impacts on your oral medication, insulin, blood glucose meter, and test strips.  Let’s take a look at some tips to keep your diabetes supplies safe during the hot summer months!

Insulin

Insulin can become damaged and ineffective in extreme heat.  Be sure to keep insulin pens and insulin vials refrigerated. . If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, it is perfectly fine to carry these supplies with you during the day unrefrigerated, just as long as you’re careful to keep them out of direct sunlight, and in a cool environment.  On the other hand, never store insulin next to a frozen ice pack—freezing will ruin the insulin.  Be sure to look at the medication insert for specific information on temperature thresholds for your specific insulin.

Oral Medications

Heat can also harm the effectiveness of oral diabetes medications.  Most oral medications have a therapeutic temperature range above which they don’t work as well.  Look at the medication insert for specific information on heat thresholds for you oral diabetes medications.

Blood Glucose Meter

Your blood glucose meter plays an important role in caring for your diabetes, so you want to be sure to take good care of it.  That means you should never expose it to extreme temperatures, whether that may be freezing cold, or intense heat. During the hot summer months, you don’t want to keep your meter in your car since cars can get extremely hot.  Always keep it in a cool dry place.

Test Strips

Test strips are another important tool in caring for diabetes, and we know how costly they are too.  You need protect your investment and never expose test strips to heat, which can leave the test strips working incorrectly.  Never leave your strips exposed to extreme temperatures, and always close the cap on a canister of test strips. Keeping the lid closed at all times will protect the integrity of the strips, and also keep out moisture.

 

Whitney Roberts, RD, CDE

Fit4D CDE

Diabetes doesn’t take Vacation

Diabetes doesn’t take Vacation

Yeah, Vacation!!

In a recent TIME magazine I read that 96% of Americans recognize the importance of taking vacation, yet we are taking fewer days off than in the past and leaving unused vacation days at year’s end.

Vacation is a time to de-stress, to break away from our everyday life and daily grind whether it be through a ‘stay-cation’ or by exploring new surroundings or making an annual trek to our favorite location. Having time away can help with peace of mind, and help us reconnect with family or to interests not fully explored with the demands of work and everyday life. I know I focus better, perform more effectively and work harder when allowed time to break away and rejuvenate both physically and mentally.

This may come from a week-long vacation or simply a long weekend without work vying for my attention.

For those that need reminders I encourage you to do the same. Carve out some vacation time in any manner you will find pleasurable and doable.

Use the tips given by Gabrielle Kemble, Fit4D Health Coach, who recently wrote about how to plan for summer travel, and frankly, travel at any time of the year.

What I would like you to think about is this…while I extoll the virtues of vacation remember that diabetes doesn’t take a vacation. It goes where you go. Taking a break is vital, taking a break from the daily grind of diabetes self-management is also refreshing. However, to take a complete break from lifestyle habits or your medication regimen may impact your diabetes not only for the time away but into the days and weeks following your time off. It may be difficult to reign in the excess of vacation, just as it can be difficult after the holidays. Remember your A1C is a 2-3 month average of your blood sugar which includes what might be a weeklong break from healthy eating along with any change in activity level. So, to have it both ways, vacation with diabetes control I encourage you to plan ahead and get the best for your diabetes management and get the most out of your vacation.

Consider This

Consider how you may include occasional special treats while not over doing it. An increase in activity may help balance extra calories but we  don’t burn as much as our mind assumes. And excess calories and carbohydrates can cause the hyperglycemia you’re trying to avoid. Pack snacks, and easy foods to prepare when you have kitchen facilities to reduce frequency of dining out – and you’ll save money, too! Indulge with conscious thought to do so but in a controlled manner. Share a dessert and if you plan to do this, skip the appetizer. Or, if you plan to stop at the creamery for a frozen dessert, pick something light for dinner and not the pasta special. Enjoy the sights and take an additional walk after your meal. Manage alcoholic beverages and limit snacking. Why stock the camper, fridge or car with a multitude of snacks we wouldn’t ordinarily have at home? Don’t use vacation as an excuse to eat junk food, fast food or too much of any food. Keep snacks out of reach while driving so as not to eat out of boredom.

These are tips to manage food intake and reduce hyperglycemia. On the other hand, for those who are more active on vacation, you’ll want to plan ahead to prevent the hypoglycemia that can come with an increase in physical activity.

Medications

Everyone’s needs and desires are different just as medications are. So, think about how your medications work, and discuss with your Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) or Health Care Provider (HCP) your vacation plans before leaving. They can help you learn how to make necessary adjustments with considerations for your medication regimen while on vacation to accommodate any change in sleep pattern, activity level, or food habits.

If you travel with a plan you are more apt to stick with it and be healthier for it, mind, body and spirit. Upon returning home you will feel better and ease into your routine more easily as well. I wish you all a fun, restful and healthy vacation!

 

Lori Muller RD, LD,

CDE Fit4D Diabetes Health Coach

Summer Travel & Diabetes

Summer is upon us, and for many people that means travel plans!  Diabetes shouldn’t hold anyone back from getting out and enjoying the fun!  The important thing to focus on, is taking your care routine with you.

 

The Essentials

Packing double the amount of medication and supplies you usually use is a great idea, incase of delays in traveling or other unexpected events.  Think about packing medication, test strips, lancets, batteries for your meter, and ketone strips.  Always take copies of prescriptions with you, should you need to get refills on the road.   Keep your health insurance card and emergency contacts in an easy to find place for emergencies; wear your medical ID bracelet or necklace.  If on insulin, be sure to bring a glucagon kit, as well as plenty of syringes or other insulin delivery devices.  It is also a good idea to check out where to get medical care near your travel destination as well.  Better to be prepared and not need it then want it and not have it.

Bring a note with you from your doctor explaining that you have diabetes and what medications you need.  If traveling to a location where a different language is spoken, consider having the note translated into the appropriate language(s).  Medications and other diabetic supplies should be packed in your carry on bag, rather than in checked luggage so that there is no risk of losing it.  Keep time zone changes in mind as you go, and be sure to take your medication at your usual times.

If you utilize an insulin pump, there are a few extra things to consider.  Request a private screening at the airport, rather than going through the body scanner.  Make sure you have extras of all your supplies – reservoirs, infusion sets, inserters if you need one, extra batteries for your pump, glucose tablets, non-perishable snacks and insulin.

 

Move!

With driving, or flying, there is always a risk of blood clots when you sit still for awhile.  Try to move around every hour or two if you are at risk for these.  Insulin that is open and in use, needs to be kept at room temperature.  If you will be in a hot car or other area, remember to pack your insulin with a cooling ice pack, putting a towel between the ice and medication to prevent it from accidentally freezing.  If you are in an area that will be excessively cold, keep your open insulin close to your body to keep it the appropriate temperature.   Unopened insulin should always be kept at refrigerator temperature, so this should be wrapped in a towel and placed with an ice pack as well.

 

Prepare for Lows

Pack plenty of pure sugar items that you can use in case of a low blood sugar.  Healthy snacks like fruit, raw veggies and bottled water are a good idea too as these are not always readily available on the road or in the air.  Make sure you have access to nutrition information.  If the places you will be eating at don’t have carbohydrate information readily available, download a nutrition database app such as Calorie King or Nutrition Data, or get a hard copy of their pocket guide versions.

Once you arrive at your travel destination, try to maintain your usual activity level to keep blood sugars in check.  And above all else, test your blood sugar!  Even more than usual, since changes in routine, eating and exercise habits can drastically affect blood sugar levels.  The more you check, the more chances you have to improve the results.  It can be difficult to balance your diabetes with changes in routine, but it if you plan ahead you can fully enjoy your summer vacation!

 

Gabrielle Kemble, RD, CDE

Fit4D CDE & Clinical Manager