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Lifestyle Tips:  Keeping it all Together During the Sizzlin’ Days of Summer


Group of women runningThe hot, humid days of summer has have arrived! For those of us using (or considering using an insulin pump or CGM system) we have to take a step back and remember some of our basic diabetes training.

Actually, using a pump or CGMS during summertime specifically gives us more flexibility (versus insulin injections and simple finger sticks) to do a variety of activities we may not normally do the rest of the year. Activities like swimming, biking, boating, camping, fishing, as well as vacationing with family and friends. With our continuous glucose sensors and/or insulin pumps, we can have a variety of basal rates to match our daily and nightly needs for insulin, we can use multiple bolus features on our pumps for summer bar-b-ques and parties.

However, as we all know, we never get to take a “vacation” from managing our diabetes. The summer break is no exception. Yet, with a little planning and “remembering,” we can look forward to an awesome summertime full of fun and hopefully some well-deserved rest and relaxation!

So, here we go, with our Pumps It, Inc. Lifestyle Hacks for the Sizzlin’ Days of Summer

  1. Closely monitor your blood sugars!  The newer CGMS models will communicate with your cell phone making checking your blood sugar level easier and more discreet than ever.  If you are not on CGMS, check your blood glucose frequently — at least four times per day! I know, I know, we have heard this our entire “diabetes lives,” but how true it is- in order to avoid acute complications of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, we must check often!
  2. Remember how to “interpret” your readings so you can act accordingly. If your blood glucose is less than 70 mg/dl, you are hypoglycemic and must treat immediately. This situation is a medical emergency. Remember your 15:15 Rule and Follow It! 15 grams of carbohydrate (3-4 glucose tablets, 1/2 cup juice,) wait 15 minutes and check glucose again. If you are still below 70 mg/dl, repeat 15:15 Rule, if you are above 70 mg/dl, do nothing. Ask your healthcare provider to prescribe a glucagon emergency kit for you as well.
  3. On the flipside, if you have 2 unexplained glucose readings above 240 mg/dl, CHANGE your pump infusion site and take a correction injection (use a syringe) as specified by your healthcare provider. Also, check urine or blood for ketones, if ketones are present, contact your healthcare provider immediately and drink plenty of sugar-free fluids and water for hydration and to flush the ketones out of your body.
  4. Store your diabetes supplies in a cool, dry area. Supplies include: CGM sensors, blood glucose test strips, blood glucose meter, pump supplies, insulin, insulin syringe and a source of carbohydrate for treating hypoglycemia. Do not forget, our sensors, blood glucose test strips and insulin are not designed to be stored in a car in the middle of the summer!
  5. When you prepare your infusion site, you may need additional “sticking power” during the summer. There are a variety of skin preps and special tapes that can be used to help us keep our sensors and infusion sets in place during the dog days of summer. Ask your “Pumps It, Inc” representative for suggestions if you are having trouble keeping your site in because of warm weather, water or sweating.
  6. What to do when swimming?  CGMS:  Your sensor and transmitter are watertight, at least during swimming and snorkeling.  Your receiver should stay out of the water.  PUMPS:  almost all modern infusion sets will detach.  Leave your pump on dry land (or boat). Some insulin pumps are actually “watertight” and can be worn while swimming. However, check your pump casing and make sure there are no cracks or leaks in your pump. If you spot a crack, do not submerge the pump in water. Contact “Pumps It, Inc” to report the crack. IF you disconnect your pump while swimming, check your glucose prior to disconnecting and then after 1 hour. Disconnecting for longer than one hour may cause significant hyperglycemia.
  7. Remember to use your temporary basal rate feature. Activities such as swimming, biking, hiking, walking, playing and running may lower your blood glucose levels and you may need to set a temporary rate on your pump to prevent exercise induced hypoglycemia. Make sure you know how to use this feature on your pump and contact your healthcare professional for instruction on decreases in rates.
  8. When traveling on an airline, make sure you diabetes supplies are in your carry-on baggage.  Never under any circumstance put your diabetes supplies with your checked baggage. Have your physician write you a letter stating you have diabetes and carry at least double the supplies you think you will need.
  9. If you are not already doing so, wear a medic alert identification. These can be obtained though the American Diabetes Association, James Avery or any local pharmacy or Wal-Mart.
  10. Last but not least, have fun!


Happy Summer!

© Connie Chitwood-Vu, MS, RD, LD, CDE, BC-ADM, CPT