The winter months tend to affect diabetics. With cold, snow and ice threatening, sugar levels can creep up whilst temperature drops. Fortunately, diabetes can be successfully managed with the help of diabetic medical supplies, healthy lifestyle changes and independent living aids.
With this in mind, we have compiled some winter care tips for diabetes to help keep your blood glucose levels under control during winter.
Keep track of your sugar levels
Regular testing will help you to catch highs and lows and will keep your sugar levels under control.
Did you know that temperature changes can affect how responsive your body is to your insulin? It’s not unusual to experience a change in your readers in colder temperatures. That is because diabetes can be harder to manage during the winter months due to the colder temperatures combined with comfort food, making it more difficult to stick to your meal and exercise routine.
Monitoring the blood glucose levels on regular basis is vital to manage your diabetes progression. Blood Glucose monitors is the tool that are used to track any fluctuations in the blood glucose levels.
The correct glucometer can make this easier - we recommend the Smart Blood Glucose with Ketone Monitor from LifeSmart without Bluetooth and the Smart Blood Glucose plus ketone monitor with a Bluetooth function. Test frequently so that you can correct sooner rather than later, if you need to. Top up your blood glucose test strips as often as you can to enable regular testing. Keep an eye on your ketone levels too - keep a steady supply of Ketone Test strips from LifeSmart on hand.
Boost your immune system
Having an auto-immune condition means your immune system is most likely compromised, making you more susceptible to illnesses like the flu. As a diabetic you are more likely to develop respiratory illnesses. This year – more than ever – keep yourself safe and book your flu shot!
Another point of care this winter should be to improve your body’s ability to defend itself.
Pack a punch to your immune response by:
- taking a vitamin C supplement,
- staying hydrated : drink water for hydration - tea and coffee do not count as hydrating beverages
- filling your plate with whole foods, like fruits and vegetables. Have fibre rich foods and avoid processed and sugary foods. Eat whole grains and legumes. Choose tasty, low-carb vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, eggplants, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and zucchinis. Add more winter greens like kale or spina
All this will boost your overall health and also help you to keep your diabetes in check.
Keep your Blood Pressure under control
Heart disease is a common complication of diabetes. Blood pressure has a direct impact on heart diseases. So, it is essential to keep blood pressure levels under control. Use a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure regularly. It gives you fast and accurate measurements. An alternative is the compact wrist monitor allowing you to check your blood pressure anywhere and anytime.
Make sure to regularly go for a check-up at your GP and take prescribed medications for blood pressure.
Keep your activity levels up
Did you know that even a little physical activity every day can help your glucose levels in a number of ways:
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
- Keeping you warm
- Greay for your mind
Insulin sensitivity - in types I & II diabetes - can help your body to better regulate sugar levels. If you are using insulin, keep an eye on your blood sugar levels in case your insulin requirements go down. Bear in mind that exercise can affect blood glucose for up to 2 days.
Physical activity will also keep you warm as the effects don’t stop as soon as you stop exercising. Not only does it help improve fitness levels, but it also helps with your metabolism which can help to keep your body temperature up even hours after you have finished exercising. If you tend to feel cold during winter months, a little activity each day could be the thing.
Many diabetics find that exercise can trigger a higher glucose reading. This can indicate insulin resistance - counteract it by reducing the amount of fat and oil you consume. Participate in regular activity to keep your blood circulation in good shape, assisting - alongside good blood glucose control - to mitigate diabetes side effects such as cholesterol and blood pressure.
Exercise at home with some easy gym equipment like a pedal exerciser from Aidapt. It’s low-impact, ideal for those with joint pains. Develop muscle tone and strength by using dumbbells from Metron and get the best resistance training at home with this shoulder pulley from Theraband. All exercise will improve overall health and fitness. Anything that increases heart rate will help.
Diabetic foot care
Neuropathy is a condition that typically affects the feet. Due to diabetes side effects, there is a loss of sensation in the feet. This condition is particularly dangerous because feet can get injured easily. Coupled with the difficulties many diabetics have with wound healing, you want to protect your feet at all costs.
Winter can make keep your feet healthy an even bigger challenge due to decreased circulation. The chance of infection and wounds that simply don’t want to heal is a huge risk for diabetics. Make sure your feet are protected so that there’s no risk of injury and have them examined daily so that you can treat neuropathy at its onset immediately, preventing these side effects. Cold weather can also cause loss of sensation leading injury.
Diabetic feet must stay warm and dry. You can use warm socks to keep your feet dry and protected - like these Diabetic Copper-based classic socks. Moisturise your feet to avoid drying and cracking by applying Dia Balm Foot Care Cream – Dermal Therapy to your feet daily.
Make sure your winter shoes protect you from cold and dampness. Consider using these insoles to protect your foot sole.
Protect your insulin and medical supplies from the cold
Insulin and other diabetic medication react to temperature changes. It is best to keep these sensitive supplies at a steady temperature. Use an Insulin Cooler Pouch for 2 pens or the larger model – the insulin cooler wallet -for 5 pens to protect your supplies from changing temperatures.
A pen pouch also keeps your supplies safely housed in one location, making it convenient to travel with. This means there’s no chance of a forgotten syringe or an empty vial of insulin while you’re out - everything is neatly contained in a protected pouch ready for use.
Safe Disposal of contaminants
If you have young children in the house, ensuring your sharp and dangerous contaminants don’t reach them, is crucial. As careful as you may be, accidents can happen - but not if you have the correct equipment. Use Sharps Bin for your diabetes waste, for safe disposal.
Diabetes and winter time
With the colder temperatures of winter, you might find yourself wanting to have an extra hot drink or a larger snack. Remember to discuss any changes you make with your diabetes caregiver so that you can enjoy these indulgences without compromising your health.
Insulin-dependent diabetics can venture a few extra foods into their diet provided those carbohydrates are accounted for when dosing insulin. Remember to monitor your glucose levels and always keep your supplies on your person, wherever you go.
Stay up-to-date on the latest innovations and keep your diabetes kit stocked with premium-quality supplies.
There are so many assistive devices and daily living aids that can simplify the care of diabetes - even for those who travel frequently. They will impact your life and help control your diabetes this winter.