Summer is full of laid-back vacations, lax schedules, and spontaneous activities and adventures. And while this sounds like a dream come true for most people, it can prove challenging for people with diabetes since routines are a crucial part of successful diabetes management. Your diabetes doesn’t have to limit your summer plans though. If you plan ahead and work with your health care providers, you can have a relaxing and laid-back summer without neglecting your diabetes management.
Your Diabetes Screening Checklist
As anyone with diabetes will tell you, diabetes is a whole-body disease. Diabetes management is crucial because, if neglected, it can lead to serious complications. That’s why it’s important to make sure you keep up-to-date on all your screenings and tests. While these tests can be done any time of year, summer is a great time of year to get up-to-speed on any regular tests or screenings since doctors’ offices are usually less crowded, making it easier to get appointments. Bring this checklist to your next doctor’s appointment:
- A1C test: This is the most widely used test to measure average blood glucose levels. The A1C test will give you a good idea of how well managed your diabetes is. You should complete your A1C test at least once a year.
- Kidney monitoring tests:According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in the United States. As with other diabetes complications, the earlier kidney disease is discovered, the more easily it can be treated. People with diabetes should be screened annually for kidney disease through a blood and urine test.
- Retinal eye exam: Since diabetes can affect the blood vessels in your eyes, The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that you visit an eye care professional at least once a year to get a retinal or dilated eye exam. Preventive check-ups are the best way to detect any changes in your eyes early, in order to prevent complications.
- Foot exam:Foot care is an important part of your diabetes management since those with diabetes are more prone to foot problems. Per the ADA, you should have your feet inspected at each routine visit, or at least once a year. Pay close attention to your feet and be sure to tell your doctor if you get any cuts on your feet or if your feet change color, shape, or start to hurt or lose sensitivity.
- Coronary heart disease screening: According to the American Heart Association, diabetes increases your risk for certain heart conditions, including heart disease and stroke. If you have diabetes, you are also more likely to have risk factors that lead to heart conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, or high cholesterol. Even if you do not have symptoms, it is recommended that people with diabetes complete an annual risk assessment. Your doctor may prescribe preventive medications. You can help reduce your risk by managing your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and getting help to quit smoking.
Diabetes-friendly Summer Tips
- Make sure you have an adequate supply of your medications on hand. You can enjoy the more relaxed pace of the summer if you plan ahead. Avoid diabetes complications by making sure you always have enough medication on hand.
- If you are flying, bring additional medication and supplies. This will come in handy in the case of unexpected delays. Our IBX Medicare pharmacy benefit offers a 90-day supply at retail pharmacies and through the mail-order delivery program. The mail-order delivery program offers the additional benefit of a lower copay in the initial coverage stage. (Note: Make sure you pack all of your diabetes medications and equipment in your carry-on.)
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about insulin dosing. You may need to adjust your insulin for your summer lifestyle. Whether it’s attending more picnics or engaging in more physical activity, you probably spend more time outdoors in the summer. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of your medications need to be adjusted to meet the needs of your summer lifestyle. And make sure to always take your insulin as directed on the prescription label.
- Be mindful of medication and equipment storage. Heat and humidity can negatively affect medication and equipment, causing them to be less effective. Never leave your diabetes medication or equipment in a car because heat can degrade the medication or cause your meter to malfunction. If you’re going to be out in the heat, be sure that your insulin is stored properly. There are special travel cases available that will keep your insulin cool and safe. Talk to your pharmacist about which medications may require refrigeration or additional considerations when traveling.
- Shield your skin. Certain medications may cause you to sunburn more easily, so make sure you talk to your doctor or your pharmacist to see if any prescriptions make you more sensitive to the sun. In addition, if you have nerve damage, you may be less sensitive to the sun’s heat. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that is SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or higher and reapply every two to three hours. Try to keep out of direct sun during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Beware of the heat. According to the ADA, people with diabetes are susceptible to heat-related complications because dehydration can occur more quickly when blood glucose is not under control. To prevent dehydration during the summer months, drink plenty of water and limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. Check blood glucose levels at least four times a day and watch out for signs of heat exhaustion (dizziness, excessive sweating, fainting, cramping, cold/clammy skin, headaches, rapid heartbeat, or nausea).
- Adjust your exercise routine. Exercise is an important part of your diabetes management, but in the summer months, you may have to adjust your normal routine. Avoid exercising outside during the hottest hours of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you need to exercise during these hours, move your activity indoors where it’s air-conditioned.
- Protect your feet. Choose comfortable, breathable, closed-toe footwear over flip-flops or sandals. People with diabetes can lose sensation in their feet, which could cause you to overlook a cut, blister, or scrape on your foot, leading to infection and diabetes complications. This is why it’s important to check your feet every day for any cuts or scrapes.
Get Diabetes Management Support
Since diabetes affects your whole body, it’s crucial that you get the support you need to manage this complex condition. If you’re an IBX member, in addition to your health care provider team, you can also count on our registered nurse Health Coaches, who are available 24/7 to help you manage your diabetes in a way that works with your lifestyle.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.