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Winter and diabetes management: Ten common tips
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Winter and diabetes management: Ten common tips

The chilly winter months could have a direct bearing on your diabetes management and blood circulation

 

Diabetes management could become tricky during winter as an extreme dip in the temperature could affect blood flow in your body and result in some vascular changes. According to some experts, these seasonal changes could even make it hard for proper diabetes management.

Dr Anusha Nadig, associate consultant – endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore explains that the impact of low temperature on blood circulation could slow down insulin delivery to the blood. This constriction in the blood vessels could also increase the risk of stroke and heart attack during the winter.

“The heart will have to work harder to pump blood and ensure that it reaches all parts of the body,” says Dr Sridevi Alturi, consultant diabetes and endocrinology, Manipal Hospital, Whitefield.

Some of the common tips for people with diabetes during winter:

  1. Dress warm: To ensure a smooth blood flow, wear warm clothes to prevent from body temperature dropping. “Apart from wearing warm and comfortable clothes, diabetics can also wear a face mask to prevent respiratory infections,” says Dr Alturi.
  2. Monitor blood sugar levels: Dr Nadig says it is a must to check blood sugar levels more frequently than usual, especially during the cold snaps to correct your blood sugar levels.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet: Diet makes a big difference to blood sugar levels. Dr Nadig says eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help maintain a balanced blood sugar level. Since there may be less physical activity during winter, people with diabetes should eat less carbs and fried foods Dr Alturi adds. Ensure that you always have healthy food stocked at home.
  4. Stay active: As the temperature drops, most people tend to stop exercising. “They should consciously try to stay active and engaged in some form of physical activities to keep the body warm and maintain good blood circulation,” says Dr Alturi. Dr Nadig says engaging in regular physical activities, even if it’s a few indoor exercises (like yoga or infinity walking) is a good idea. “Staying active promotes insulin sensitivity and helps in better blood sugar control during the winter,” she adds.
  5. Get vaccinated: Dr Nadig points out that cold temperatures can weaken the immune system, leaving people with diabetes more vulnerable to infections. She also stresses the need for them to get their annual flu vaccination and any recommended pneumonia vaccinations to reduce the risk of these respiratory infections. Dr Alturi points out that elderly people with diabetes are more vulnerable to these infections during winter.
  6. Moisturize regularly: It is highly recommended to use a fragrance-free moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated and prevent dryness and cracking. People with diabetes need to keep their skin hydrated and moisturized because dry and cracked skin could lead to infections. Dr Alturi says people with diabetes living in frigid temperatures need to be wary of frostbites as well. Sometimes frequent urination also results in loss of water from the body and makes the skin dry.
  7. Inspect your feet daily: High sugar levels can cause numbness or loss of sensation, especially in the legs. People with chronic diabetes will be unable to feel any pain from the wounds and bruises on their feet. This could digress into gangrene and serious infections later. “Check your feet every day for cuts, sores or blisters and seek medical attention promptly,” advises Dr Nadig. Without timely intervention, this could lead to amputation of the affected limb.
  8. Keep medications and supplies accessible: Store medications and supplies at a consistent temperature, away from extreme cold or heat. She says people who are on insulin should store insulin vials at an appropriate temperature.
  9. Plan for emergencies: Sometimes cold and harsh weather can disrupt power. Dr Nadig suggests keeping an emergency kit handy with extra oral medications, supplies (like insulin and healthy food items) and contact information (of doctors and emergency department ) in case of power outages or disruptions.
  10. Communicate with healthcare providers: Dr Alturi says it is important to immediately seek medical help if you are facing any health issue before it develops into any complication. Dr Nadig suggests regular checkups to check if your treatment plan needs to be altered.

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