Many Diabetics Do Not Know or Heed Dangers of Hot Weather

Article

San Diego, CA - A new survey shows that diabetic individuals who live in a hot climate have important gaps in their "heat awareness," or knowledge about proper diabetes self-care in hot weather, even though diabetes raises their risk of heat illness. The results of "Diabetes in the Desert: What Do Patients Know About Heat?" were presented at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Researchers from Mayo Clinic in Arizona, in collaboration with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, surveyed patients at a Phoenix diabetes clinic and analyzed 152 surveys. Responses shows that people living with diabetes in hot climates need increased awareness of how heat affects their disease, said lead researcher Adrienne Nassar, MD, third-year medical resident at Mayo Clinic.

"People with diabetes have an impaired ability to sweat, which predisposes them to heat-related illness, as do uncontrolled, high blood sugars," Nassar said. "Many patients surveyed had suboptimal glycemic control during the summer, possibly increasing their risk of dehydration."

Past research shows that during hot weather people with diabetes have an increased number of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths due to heat illness.

Yet one in five survey respondents said they would not take precautions until temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Farenheit. "Heat illness can take place at 80 to 90 degrees when you factor in heat index," Nassar said.

Only about half of the patients knew the definition of the heat index, the combination of air temperature and humidity. High humidity makes heat more dangerous because it shows the evaporation of persperation, the way the body cools itself.

Heat also can harm the effectiveness of diabetes medications and supplies. "Oral medications as well as insulin have a therapeutic temperature range above which they lose efficacy," Nassar said. The drug's package insert includes information about proper temperatures for storage.

Although 73 percent of respondents had received information about the harmful effect of heat on insulin, fewer knew about the adverse effects of heat on their oral diabetes medications (30 percent) and on glucose meters (41 percent) and glucose test strips (38 percent).

Even when survey respondents knew that they should protect their diabetes medications and glucose-testing supplies from heat, an alarming proportion--37 percent--chose to leave them at home rather than risk heat exposure.

"If they are unable to check their blood sugars while they are away from home, that's unsafe," Nassar said.

"Increasingly, more people with diabetes are living in places characterized by hot weather. Patient education focusing on diabetes management in hot climates is needed," she said.

Source: The Endocrine Society

Related Videos
What Makes JAK Inhibitors Safe in Dermatology
Potential JAK Inhibitor Combination Regimens in Dermatology
Therapies in Development for Hidradenitis Suppurativa
"Prednisone without Side Effects": The JAK Inhibitor Ceiling in Dermatology
Discussing Changes to Atopic Dermatitis Guidelines, with Robert Sidbury, MD, MPH
Ghada Bourjeily, MD: Research Gaps on Sleep Issues During Pregnancy
John Winkelman, MD, PhD: When to Use Low-Dose Opioids for Restless Legs Syndrome
Bhanu Prakash Kolla, MBBS, MD: Treating Sleep with Psychiatric Illness
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.