The weather outside is frightful! The temperatures are dropping and we are in the midst of deep winter cold. Managing to stay warm can be a challenge on days like these, so how do you manage your diabetes in the winter? Here are a few things to remember…
Insulin is liquid. It can freeze. Make sure not to leave insulin in your car. When you are outside, keep it close to your body. This also means that if you are using an insulin pump, make sure to tuck your pump close to your body to keep things running properly.
If you think your insulin has been frozen, throw it out! Don’t take any chances. It will not work as efficiently once the proteins have been frozen.
That means keeping your diabetes devices warm as well! I just told you to keep the insulin in your pump warm, but did you also know that your pump (like your phone) also needs to stay warm? Keep your pump and CGM under your winter clothing and as close to your body as you can.
If you are using a tSlim pump, watch for the low-temperature warning on the pump. This will tell you that your pump is not functioning as it should because of the cold.
Check your blood glucose level.
I know, you normally check but when it is cold out make sure that you still check…a lot. Some people see their bg levels rise in the cold weather while others see it go up. Don’t guess or go by how you feel–check then adjust with food or insulin.
Before you check, make sure that your meter is warm as well. Glucometers function poorly below 40F (4C). If you feel that your glucometer could be too cold, warm it in your armpit for a few minutes. It will quickly return to a functioning state.
Keep your hands warm.
It can be hard to check your blood glucose levels when fingers are cold and blood isn’t circulating properly. Keep your hands warm and toasty to help make finger sticks a bit easier. Wear warm gloves. You may want to consider using mitts that have removable fingers to make it easier to check.
Carry glucose that won’t freeze.
Juice packs are a handy way to treat lows but when you are playing in the snow, glucose tablets and granola bars are probably a better choice. Also make sure to keep your glucagon warm and safe. Frozen glucagon will be as useful as frozen insulin.
Winter activities can be fun but make sure you are prepared. Follow some of these few hot tips to manage diabetes in the winter and enjoy your time in Mother Nature’s deep freeze!