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Managing Diabetes In the Summer Heat

Managing Diabetes In the Summer Heat

Monday June 20th marks the first day of summer. If you live in area with cold winters, you’re probably thrilled to finally feel the warmth of summer on your skin. You may even want to participate in some outdoor activities.

According to an article titled, Body temperature regulation in diabetes, “individuals with type 2 diabetes have up to a 56 percent greater risk for hospitalization and/or mortality during a heat wave”.1

I share this fact, not to discourage you from enjoying summer weather and activities, but rather, to encourage you to read the following article for some important tips to help keep you safe.

Body temperature regulation during heat stress:

– The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that controls many vital processes, one being regulation of body temperature.

– If your body needs to cool down:

  • Sweat: sweating is one primary ways for heat loss. Sweat helps cool the skin as it evaporates.
  • Vasodilatation (dilation of blood vessels): vasodilation increases blood flow to the skin surface and allows your body to release heat through radiation (heat given off to the surrounding atmosphere).

How does heat stress impact an individual with type 2 diabetes?

– In 2013, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, published a study titled, Older adults with type 2 diabetes store more heat during exercise. Results of this study concluded,Older adults with T2D have a reduced capacity to dissipate heat during exercise, resulting in a greater heat storage and therefore level of thermal strain.”2

– Obesity is associated with reduced heat tolerance as well as impairments in vasodilation and sweating.

  • Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and is common in those already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

– Individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension, a common comorbidity of type 2 diabetes) experience greater increases in blood pressure during heat stress.

– Individuals with cardiovascular disease (a common comorbidity of type 2 diabetes) have reduced exercise tolerance during heat stress.

If you plan to be active this summer (first get the clearance from your physician) follow these tips:

– Keep hydrated

  • Fluid loss from sweat needs to be replaced. Make sure to drink plenty of caffeine-free fluids such as water and/or carb free beverages.
  • If your diabetes is under poor control you will be more prone to dehydration as chronically elevated blood sugar levels increase fluid loss.
  • Blood sugar levels can raise when you are dehydrated.

– Know the signs of heat exhaustion

– Exercise in a cool place or exercise when the sun in least intense

  • Exercise in an air conditioned gym or go for a walk around the mall.
  • Prefer to exercise outdoors?
    • Exercise when the sun is least intense before 10 am or after 4 pm
    • Choose a shaded area for outdoor activities
    • Swim
  • Monitor your blood sugar
    • Discuss with your physician how often to check your blood sugar. He/she may want you to check your blood sugar more often if you are going to be more active than usual.
    • Keep in mind heat can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate.
  • Keep diabetes supplies and medications in a cool dry place.
      • Insulin spoils when exposed to high temperatures.


Want to learn more? Check out the following article: Managing Diabetes in the Summer Heat

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Kenny GP, Sigal RJ, McGinn R. Body temperature regulation in diabetes. Temperature 2016; 3 (1) 119-145.
  2. Kenny GP, Stapleton JM, Yardley JE, Boulay P, Sigal RJ. Older adults with type 2 diabetes store more heat during exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2013; 45:1906–14.
  3. Diabetes-Friendly Tips for Handling the Summer Heat. Retrieved from