Heatwave - Help my blood sugar is too high!

Heat causes blood vessels to open, which makes insulin work more strongly. Many people have a higher risk of hypo's in summer. But we are all different. And there are also people who get high blood glucose levels in hot weather, like my son Kaio. This is because some bodies experience heat as stress, and stress can cause the blood sugar level to rise. In heat insulin can also be affected - so always make sure you have it in a cooler bag. Some people change the insulin every other day with hot weather, since the insulin will quickly become less effective when the weather is too hot.

Tip to get out of a hyper

Drinking broth can help your blood sugar to drop faster. Drink half a litre of broth and another half a litre of water, and spread over the next 1.5-2 hours.

Heat makes you sweat salts and because of that the blood loses volume. The volume also decreases due to the high values. As a result, the insulin can no longer be transported or absorbed properly.

By supplementing the salts (with two cups of broth), your body will be able to retain the moisture better. Next to that, drink lots of water and possibly another cup of broth.

This works with high blood sugar to lower it faster, but also in extremely hot weather.

Hypo's, Dextro and alternatives

Do you have a hypo? Then you usually take dextrose. This is the nutritional name for glucose. It's the fastest absorbing sugar-carbohydrate because it doesn't need to be digested. There are a few different brands in Holland and the amount of dextrose differs per brand.

Glucose tablets

  • Dextro Energy – available in the supermarkets
  • Dextrose from Kruidvat - available in Holland.
  • Glucotabs – available online.

Kaio always has dextrose on him. We have dextrose in Kaio’s dia-bag, in the car, in his sports bag, in pockets of his jacket and at least 3 other places.

How much should you take?

The way to act with a hypo is: to feel the hypo, prick, at a low value: take dextrose (the amount is different to all, Kaio often takes 15 Kh), wait (that's the hard part), then prick again when you don't have a sensor and then act (another dextrose or a whole wheat sandwich).

How much you need at what value is different for everyone and also depends on your body weight. Often the recommended amount is 3-4 tablets, but you'll have to find out for yourself. That's the hard part. It has to do with the carbohydrate ratio and that's different for each person. And how much you need also depends on how low your hypo is. A hypo of 4.3 is different from a hypo of 2.2 for example. Are you on 3 and are you about to eat, or are you on 3 and you just ate - it all matters. It is also important to know what level you are coming from, how your line is descending; is it a very slow line or a very steep one? In the end it's all about counting and trying.

Alternatives

At some point, you're kind of done with dextrose. That's why it's important to know that you can compensate a hypo with any sugar or carbohydrate-containing food. Only the recovering speed is different. Dextrose is recommended because it is fast and easy to use in small quantity. It works most effectively. But what are the alternatives?

There are a number of alternatives that are almost equally quick:

  • 1 small can of coke of 150 ml works very fast.
  • Pure lemonade syrup - 2 sips is often enough. You can take it with you in a 100ml travel bottle.
  • Cane sugar dissolved in hot water - for some people this works even faster than dextrose!
  • And one of our favorites is honey, which makes you get 'softer' out of a hypo. Perhaps because honey contains a composition of fast and slower carbs. Tip: Afterwards always eat something with slow carbs.

And if the hypo isn't going very fast, then all kinds of foods with carbohydrates in it are a solution, like:

  • Dried fruits (one of our favorites and also healthy)
  • Chocolate and candy bars
  • Small roll of mints (1 mint is 3 kh)
  • Roll of liquorice (contains fat which makes it a little slower)
  • Wine gums or other sweets in small packages (they often come in small bags of about 20 kh)

You will need to keep trying and see what you react best to. Only by trying it yourself you will know what you like. But we do hope this will give you different options for getting out of your hypo.

Do you have a tip or advice? We'd love to hear from you!

On vacation with Diabetes

Our first holiday with diabetes was so tensive! Did I have enough insulin and test strips with me? How should I store everything? And where was I supposed to go with my child if I needed medical attention? All the care you have to deal with at home continues in a different situation. And then some more added...

Before traveling: when you fly always bring medicine, snacks, supplies for diabetes (in their original packaging) and a medical certificate in your hand baggage, as checked-in baggage can get lost or you may not be able to access it for a longer period of time due to unplanned delays.

Let's start with the airports... It can be such a hassle at security - to make sure the insulin pens and Kaio-with-pump don't get scanned, even with all the necessary paperwork and doctor's certificates. Since pumps can be taken through the gates (metal detectors), but not through X-ray scanning devices (total body scanners). Now it seems that some people don't have any issues at security, but with us it's always hassle. Faro was an exception. Here we even got medical assistance and were allowed to go through our own little customs room. Schiphol on the other hand has been a disaster so far. It's shocking how little security knows about diabetes...

Then comes the flying itself. Kaio is more sensitive to insulin while flying, so if we're not careful he gets into a heavy hypo. I take caution therefore: I have lots of dextrose with me and skip some carbs in the counting with meals.

Food at your holiday destination is up next: Carb counting in another country is a challenge in itself. For our holiday to Turkey and Spain I googled many dishes in advance and made lists with the amount of carbohydrates. Even so, things sometimes still went wrong.

Different weather conditions also affect the blood glucose levels. Heat causes blood vessels to open up, which makes insulin work more strongly. Therefore many diabetics have a higher risk of hypo's in summer. Others get high blood glucose levels in hot weather, like my son Kaio. Heat puts the body under stress and stress can cause the blood sugar level to rise. (In a warm bath on the other hand Kaio usually gets a hypo, but a bath doesn't stress the body). Insulin can also get damaged by heat - so always make sure you carry it in a cooler bag.

By now we have been to Turkey, Spain and Denmark. And in the last two countries Kaio had an insulin pump. For Spain I ordered a cooling bag for the pump, but it had slow delivery and arrived when we were already gone. So we're making those ourselves now. AND we make sure they arrive on time of course! I know what it's like... In Spain I had night shifts, since Kaio's blood sugar was doing a roalercoaster thing, taking the pump out of automode so I had to check his blood sugar every half an hour. And then I discovered that I had forgotten his ketone meter. What a tragedy! In Denmark his blood sugar was a lot better and I only had to react to the pump once a night. And this year we are going to Turkey for the first time with a pump, so that will be exciting. Since Kaio's blood sugar is high in hot weather, it will be night work again. But I'm not going to forget the ketone meter this year!

Nowadays I use a checklist to make sure that I have everything with me. You can download it here.

No matter how well you prepare, you can never avoid all unexpected situations. Don't forget to enjoy your holiday to the fullest! That's what we do! Despite all the dramas, challenges and worries, we make sure we are having such a good time together. On holiday, everything is allowed. Then we'll have fun. And despite all the stumbling blocks, there are still those treasured moments that - for a little while - we forget all about diabetes. Enjoy!

Do you have an exciting or fun holiday experience? We'd love to hear about it!