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This summer has been HOT, HOT, HOT! In this heat, it’s especially important to ensure we are well hydrated. Spending the days outside, at the beach, or even inside with no A/C can put us at risk for dehydration. Dehydration can pose serious health risks, particularly for individuals with diabetes.

Causes of Dehydration

You’ve likely heard your doctor or diabetes educator talk about the risk of dehydration when we’re sick, especially when we’re vomiting or have diarrhea. There are a few other causes that we should consider, especially in the summer:

  • Insufficient fluid intake

  • Hot weather

  • Strenuous exercise

  • Alcohol

  • High blood sugars

Staying Hydrated in Hot Weather

Drink plenty of fluids. This one’s probably obvious, we’ve all heard ‘drink 8 glasses of water a day.’ Still, many of us don’t drink enough throughout the day, especially on hot days. If water isn’t your thing, try sparkling water/club soda with fruit, or add some flavour with Crystal Light or Mio. There are also plenty of sugar-free sparkling water beverages on the market!

Be mindful of alcohol. Especially in the heat! Alcohol itself can dehydrate us, but when combined with a long day at the beach or sitting by the pool, it’s extra risky! Ensure you are drinking enough water/non-alcoholic beverages in between drinks or sub out an alcoholic beverage for a glass of water every once in a while. A good rule of thumb is to consume 1 glass of water after every drink!

Stay cool and avoid heat exhaustion. Find a nice spot in the shade for your picnic, take a dip in the pool or lake while out enjoying the beach, or turn on your fan at home if you don’t have A/C. Heat exhaustion is more common in those with diabetes so we must take extra care. Be alert to signs of heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, profuse sweating, muscle cramps, fainting spells, headaches, increased heartbeat and nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, drink extra fluids and move to a cooler place right away.

Keep cool while exercising. While we encourage moving your body at all times of year, over-exerting ourselves in the heat can lead to dehydration quite quickly. Try taking a walk early in the morning, or late at night after it’s cooled down. Consider an indoor exercise routine where you can keep cool. As always, ensure you drink plenty of fluids during your workout! If you feel you’ve sweat more than usual, a drink with electrolytes such as Gatorade Zero might be helpful to rehydrate.

Monitor your blood sugar frequently. High blood sugars can also contribute to dehydration. When our blood sugars are high, our body tries to get rid of the excess sugar in the blood stream by filtering it out of our kidneys – we pee it out! This also means peeing out more water.

Heat can also cause our blood sugars to fluctuate so remember to monitor them more often if you’re spending time in the sun. And don’t forget to bring lots of water and snacks with you wherever you go.

Keep your insulin cool. Insulin does not work as effectively when it gets very hot or very cold. The heat can make our insulin less effective! If you are bringing your insulin with you on a hot day, try storing it in a cooler bag. If you wear an insulin pump and you’re having a pool/beach day or going on a long hike, make sure your pump is somewhere that it won’t get too hot or try using a Frio pack.

If you become dehydrated.

If you do become dehydrated in the heat, you may need to stop some of your medications temporarily. See the list here.

Watch out for these signs of dehydration:

  • Extreme thirst

  • Less frequent urination

  • Dark-colored urine

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Confusion

If any of these symptoms occur and you think you may be dehydrated, contact your health care provider.

Stay safe and enjoy this summer heat!