Diabetics can stay safe in the sun this summer

Orlagh McCollum (left) and Rachel Mulholland enjoying the weather at Crawfordsburn Country Park beach, Helen's Bay, Northern Ireland on Wednesday June 21, the summer solstice. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Orlagh McCollum (left) and Rachel Mulholland enjoying the weather at Crawfordsburn Country Park beach, Helen's Bay, Northern Ireland on Wednesday June 21, the summer solstice. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

We have all been enjoying the wonderful weather over the last few days in Northern Ireland and hope that it will continue, providing the perfect excuse to break out the BBQ, head to the seaside, or simply soak up the rays with a good book.

However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the higher temperatures can pose some sizeable health risks.

There are over 100,000 people in Northern Ireland who have been diagnosed with diabetes and it’s important that they’re aware of how hot weather can affect their condition.

Long periods of inactivity in the sun may affect diabetes control, causing blood glucose levels to be higher than usual. As well as potentially higher blood glucose levels, insulin injections are absorbed more quickly in hot weather, increasing the chances of hypoglycemia (or a hypo). So it will be important for people with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels more often and be ready to adjust their insulin dose if necessary.

And remember, Insulin and monitors can be affected by heat so make sure you keep your diabetes kit cool in the sun. If you suspect they have been damaged, make sure you speak to your GP or health care team.

Feet are also an area you will want to keep an eye on. Some people living with diabetes suffer from nerve damage or neuropathy and this can mean they may not be aware if their feet are burning. Although relatively straightforward to treat, left untreated minor injuries could develop into an infection or ulcers.

So stay safe this summer whether at home or abroad; stay covered, and make sure you drink plenty of water. Diabetes shouldn’t be a barrier to making the most out of the glorious weather, so let’s get out there and enjoy it whilst it lasts. Here’s to a fabulous summer!

Jillian Patchett, National Director, Diabetes UK Northern Ireland