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The recent heatwave along the West Coast encourages people to be outside, at the beach or pool enjoying the summer months. If you have diabetes, it may mean that you are more sensitive to this summer heat and so is your insulin. Insulin is very sensitive to bright lights and extreme temperatures which is why this summer it is important to keep it cool to prevent it from getting ruined. Knowing how to prevent your insulin from getting too hot during the day and when you are out and about is essential, especially when you are depending on each dose.
Insulin is a protein, and under the wrong temperature conditions, it can ‘spoil’ and become ineffective. Medical reviewer Rodrigo Barros highlights that insulin should be kept between 36º to 46ºF. Once an insulin vial is opened, it will retain its potency to help you manage your blood sugar for up to 28 days before it starts to break down. If you use insulin that is broken down it may result in higher blood sugars as your regular dose won’t contain its usual strength and efficacy, according to Barros. Although spoiled insulin does not give many signs that it is off, it will stop working the way it should, which if you are out and about can cause blood pressure to rise and if left untreated, could have serious consequences.
In the hot weather - or even in the cold weather, all unopened insulin should be kept in the refrigerator. It is best not to keep it at the back of the fridge - where it is often colder, and double-check the fridge setting if you use a friend’s fridge or a hotel. During these warmer months, you probably want to be out traveling, going to the beach, or visiting friends, therefore it is important that you do not leave your insulin in the car where it can get up to 20 degrees hotter than outside. Even leaving your insulin in these extreme temperatures for as short as a few minutes is risky and could break down the insulin, making it no longer effective. Store your insulin in a cool travel case, try our Glucology Insulin Cooling Pouches which are designed to keep your insulin cool for up to 36 hours after immersing it in cold water, perfect for days out in summer!
In extremely hot weather it is also important to take note of insulin that has already been injected into your body. Keep up your fluids as dehydration is more likely to occur in hot weather, raising the concentration of sugar in your bloodstream due to less water in your blood. Dehydration results in higher blood sugar levels and may mean that you will need more insulin to keep your body hydrated. Keep up the fluids to prevent your blood sugar levels from fluctuating too much.
The hot weather often means going to the beach or being outdoors, however leaving your insulin in your bag, on the hot sand, or out in the sun can destroy it. Try to keep it in the shade, out of the sun, or place it on a surface that isn’t naturally warm, for example on a damp towel. The summer can mean lots of fun outdoor activities, plan ahead and make sure you keep your insulin cool and protected so you can enjoy the summer heat, stress-free.
Remember to always seek advice from your medical practitioner before changing anything about your diabetes management. The above information is not medical advice.