Diabetes and Summer Heat Risk: Warn Your Patients

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Diabetes and Summer Heat Risk: Warn Your Patients

Make your patients aware

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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It’s hot out and the sun and humidity affect everyone, some more than others. You may not like the drippy upper lip and the sticky clothes, not to mention the constant thirst, but be grateful. Not everyone is so lucky. Diabetics especially experience increased episodes of hospitalization, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and death as the mercury rises.

It makes no difference whether the diabetes is Type I or Type II. Sadly, research by the Mayo Clinic in Arizona found that many patients were unaware of their greater vulnerability and the heightened need to take sensible precautions.

It all comes down to nerve damage, that same nerve damage that affects nearly every organ in the body. Because impaired nerves keep the sweat glands from working properly, leading to a plateau of perspiration, the core body temperature in diabetics builds up to dangerous levels. By contrast, in control subjects without glucose intolerance, perspiration rates increase as core temperatures stay constant, maintaining an equilibrium.

There are other considerations as well: the instability of insulin at high temperatures, the potential alterations in equipment like glucometers and the impaired ability to recognize danger that often accompanies over-heating.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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