Diabetes management can surely be very challenging! But, do you know winters can make it even more difficult? With temperatures dropping down, sugar levels can actually creep up. Infact, during winters, many people tend to have higher HbA1c levels than during the summer months. This may be attributed due to various factors that can affect our glucose content in winters. So, with winters approaching so close, let us have a glimpse of various common reasons that can contribute to our sugar spikes and prepare ourselves better to avert problems that may arise due to such escalations in blood sugar content.
Factors affecting blood sugar spikes during winters
1. Increased appetite during winters may lead to intake of more fat & carbs.
Winter often means eating more. Sometimes we even tend to deviate from our recommended diet to meet our appetite requirements. The increased intake of food may in turn increase the carbs and fat content, thereby affecting our blood sugars. The carbohydrate (carb) may lead to blood sugar spikes and the fat intake may lead to insulin resistance, making it harder for your diabetes medicine or insulin to do its job. As a result, blood sugars escalate.
2. Reduced workouts and physical activities.
We have been emphasizing in the past that staying active helps in blood sugar control. This is because moving more means that your body uses more glucose to fuel muscles. Also, the physical activity helps insulin work better. But, unfortunately, winters make us lazy and we tend to skip our regular workouts. Infact, for people in old age, it is difficult for them to move out for their workouts or walks in extreme winters. Moreover, it is not even recommended sometimes. But, then reduced activities and workout may accumulate more glucose in your body leading to blood sugar rise.
3. Getting trapped with flu or any other illness.
Winters are tagged with common cold and flu. Multiple reasons that attribute to this are compromised immune system with a drop in temperature. Cold, dry winter air allows the flu virus to survive longer and easily be transmitted to others. The flu virus is tougher in the winters as opposed to the warmer months. All these factors make us more susceptible to catch a cold in winters. In fact, not only flu, any kind of illness/ infection can drive up your blood sugars due to the stress created in the body.
4. Not keeping yourself well hydrated.
Our normal tendency is to have water only when we feel the thirst. We drink more fluids in the warmer months because we probably feel thirsty and are more active. Whereas, in winters, our drinking pattern changes. We may not drink enough fluids. This may lead to dehydration as well, thereby increasing our blood sugar. Moreover, we get trapped in the vicious cycle of dehydration causing sugar levels to increase and high blood sugar content causes frequent urination that may further dehydrate us.
5. Not maintaining the right environment for your diabetic supplies.
When the temperature starts to rise or dip, it can affect your testing equipment and medications. Extreme temperatures can change the consistency and degrade the insulin. Hence, it may not affect the same way in your body as usually, it does. This can alter your sugar readings immensely.
6. Not keeping yourself adequately warm.
Change in temperatures can not only affect your supplies and medicines but can have a negative impact on your body’s ability to produce and use insulin as well.
Tips to overcome winter blocks for your diabetes management
1. Avoid overeating.
This does not mean that you have to starve yourself. Nor does it mean that you have to stop eating your favorite foods. But, it certainly means that you need to stay focused on your usual healthy eating with small portions and snacks to prevent hunger. Keep a track of your carbs intake and have a balanced approach to your meals and snacks.
2. Maintain some level of physical activity.
If going outdoors to exercise isn’t an option, think of options that can help you stay fit inside the house and help your diabetes at the same time. Ideas include: joining a gym or fitness center, walking during the day, climbing stairs or using basic exercising equipment at home for some workouts. Just a little physical activity each day can help your glucose levels in a number of ways.
3. Take opinion from your doctor for a flu shot.
Also, take other precautionary measures like maintaining hand hygiene and avoiding crowded places to stay away from the common cold in winters.
4. Stay hydrated and do not wait for your thirst to give you signals for having fluids.
Though water is the best drink but to beat the temperature zone, you may even opt for hot beverages and soups for replenishing your water content. But, avoid alcohol and caffeine which increases dehydration.
5. Keep testing supplies and insulin safe and do not let them freeze in cold.
6. Keep checking your blood sugar but ensure your hands are warm enough to give you correct readings. Cold hands can certainly alter your readings. So, keep yourself warm.
This concludes that cold weather can play a bigger role in our diabetes management than we might think. But, little precautions and planning ahead may help you beat the winter blues, especially when you have diabetes. So, keep yourself safe and prepared to enjoy your winters!
The original article is written by Kawaljit Kaur, appears on sugarcare.in and is available here.