Friday, 8 January 2010

Diabetes in the Snow

Amanda asked me this question:
We had not been to cold country, had never experienced snow/winter. Do we need to take special care or precaution for pumpy during winter ?

Now, I feel I am vaguely able to answer this question, seeing that I am currently looking out at 3inches of snow (and have been stuck at home for the last few days because of it!). Snow isn't something we usually get in England, and when we do everything shuts down or doesn't function properly. But it is nice to look at isn't it?

As for managing diabetes and an insulin pump there's only a few things you need to keep in mind in the winter:

  • eating more: a sad but true result of being cold or stuck at home is that one tends to eat more, and i've definitely noticed this whenever it snows. so, it's good to make sure that you've got a good stock of healthy snacks stored in the house and no bad stuff (chips/pizza/cheese - not good, but my mum tends to keep them in the freezer). plan your meals ahead, and don't oversnack or eat too much comfort food, as you'll probably upset your infusion site - i've done this a couple of times, and you end up bruising your set by pushing too much insulin through.

  • lack of exercise: for some this isn't such a problem, as for example, I love to go for walks in the snow, and it does help me from getting 'cabin fever' from being trapped at the top of our hill. But for others, I can definitely see how it's possible to want to hibernate all winter and exercise as little as possible. But, may I recommend heading out in the bad weather every morning just for a brief moment, in order to get your systems started for the day, and breathe some deep breaths of fresh air.

  • the cold: of course, living in a colder climate will in turn effect the absorption of insulin into your body: aka it will be slower and less absorbant than it will in a hot climate. so make sure to do a fasting basal check and change, and keep a close eye on your sugar levels. to help the absorption you can have a hot bath or a session in a steam room or sauna, and make sure that the place you spend most time inside is nice and warm. this is REALLY important, because this will effect how long your sites will work for; you might have to change them more frequently in colder weather.

  • illness: this is obviously something that winter brings, and some people appear to be more prone to catching colds and viruses more than others. but illness can definitely effect your sugar levels, and if you are at all worried about your levels whilst you are ill you should ask someone to come and look after you. if you start vomiting or passing out, then you should definitely head to the hospital. -i personally don't get ill that frequently as I keep exercising and eat super healthy food.

  • blood circulation: definitely important to remember to keep your feet and hands really warm during the winter, as diabetics are far more likely to have problems with these body parts later in life, so you need to take good care of them whilst they still work. (if you are working at a computer all day, keep checking your hand temperature as it can drop fairly low without you realising) if you're heading out for a walk bundle up with a pair of gloves/mittens and wrist warmers too, scarf, hat and as many pairs of socks to keep you toasty.

  • be careful: there's lots of weather related accidents this time of year, so be careful and don't do anything unwise like jumping on ice, or driving in a blizzard. make sure that your health gets priority.
that's really all i can think of at the moment, i hope this is helpful! any more questions, please ask...