HealthONE - December 06, 2017

You work hard to keep your blood glucose levels in check, but cold winter weather can make it even more challenging to properly manage your diabetes and can lead to blood sugar problems. Did you know that high blood sugar makes your body feel warm even in frigid weather? In fact, feeling warmer than your actual body temperature can lead to serious nerve damage. Keep reading to see more ways winter impacts other aspects of your diabetes care, and how to plan for season changes for your general wellness.

1. Blood sugar monitoring

The problem: It can be extra painful to do a finger prick on hands chilled by cold winter weather. As a result, people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar less in winter. Along with lack of blood flow, unreliable glucose monitors and strips that give less reliable numbers in the cold can hide high or low blood sugar.

The solution: Try to keep up with routine blood sugar testing all winter long by running warm water over your hands or placing them near a heat source to warm them up before pricking your finger. Additionally, keep testing supplies inside so they are already warm when you're ready to use them.

2. Your exercise routine

The problem: When the weather gets cold and it gets dark early, it can be difficult to keep up your exercise routine. If you walk or run outside for your general wellness, you may be missing the motivation to exercise.

The solution: If you typically exercise outside, try an indoor workout to winterize your routine. Try simple movements like marching in place while you watch TV, working along with an exercise video or climbing stairs. You can also hit the mall or gym for a quick indoor sweat session. Still want to brave the elements? Wear warm layers and synthetic fabrics to keep warm and dry.

3. Staying healthy

The problem: Diabetes care can be difficult if you have a cold or the flu. Battling illness can cause high blood sugar levels to go unnoticed because you're feeling sick. 

The solution: Always wash your hands and get your yearly vaccine to stave off the flu virus. If you come down with a cold, have a sick-day plan and check your blood sugar levels often. Keep your home stocked with essentials like medicine, food and drinks so you don't have to run out to the store or end up in the hospital due to dangerously high blood sugar.

4. What you wear

The problem: You may not realize you're overly cold or injured due to diabetic nerve damage that can lead to loss of feeling in fingers, toes or limbs.

The solution: Cover exposed skin before you leave home with mittens, a scarf and thick socks. And don't forget to choose shoes appropriate for the weather that keep your feet warm and dry.