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Diabetes Winter Hacks: 7 Tips To Staying On Track During Cold Weather Season

Miranda Lowery | The LOOP BlogA big thanks to Miranda Lowery, CDE, RD, for stopping by with 7 tips for managing your diabetes even when the temperature drops.

1. Keep your diabetes devices and insulin out of the cold

Just like extreme heat, extreme cold can affect your insulin (insulin solutions freeze near 32 degrees Fahrenheit), and we recommend that you avoid exposing your insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor to weather below 34 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re outside in cold weather, wear your pump close to your body and cover it with an accessory or warm clothing. Just like in heat, freezing temperatures can break down insulin and cause it lose its effectiveness. Make sure your blood glucose (BG) meter is protected in a case, and bundled up too!

2. Protect your immune system

Winter is flu season, and when you’re sick, you’re probably stressed, both of which can raise BG levels. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you should be getting an annual flu shot to help protect yourself against the flu. And wash your hands often with soap and water, or keep hand sanitizer nearby, so you don’t spread germs. Just remember, hand sanitizer may have sugar alcohols so could affect your BG readings and dry out your hands, so make sure you wash them before you pull out your meter. If you do get sick, follow sick day rules provided by your healthcare team.

3. Test, don’t guess

Dramatic temperature changes may affect your BG levels. As the seasons change, pay close attention to your CGM trend, because you’ll likely be experiencing different activities or schedules than other times during the year.

4. Keep your hands warm

Cold weather can leave you with cold hands, making testing your BG more difficult. When your hands are warmer, it brings more blood to your fingers. Wearing gloves outside is one of the easiest ways to keep your hands warm during the cold months. There are also special mittens available that allow you to take the finger portion off, so you won’t need to remove the full glove just to expose a finger. If your hands are cold before testing, warm them up on a warm mug or with warm soapy water.

5. Don’t stop moving

Cold weather can make us want to bundle up by the fire and skip our exercise routine, especially when the sun goes down earlier in the day. It’s important to continue moving during the winter season to help keep your BG levels under control, keep you warm, and relax your mind. Look for ways to work in your daily exercise, such as walking at your local mall, joining a gym, trying activities you can do at home, taking up a new winter sport, or bundling up with a buddy and continuing your outdoor routine.

6. Beat the winter blues

The holiday season can be stressful, and the shorter winter days can affect your mood and emotions. Getting exercise, eating well, and keeping busy with the things you enjoy can help keep your spirits up. If you’re having trouble with depression, talk to a peer and contact your healthcare team for help.

7. Keep an eye on your feet

Winter air can dry out and crack your skin, especially on your feet, which can open doors to wounds and infections. Be sure to protect your feet with the necessary winter footwear, especially in the snow and below freezing temperatures. Apply moisturizer to your feet to keep your skin healthy, and inspect them daily. If you notice an injury that isn’t healing, be sure to contact your healthcare team immediately.

What are your tips for managing your diabetes during the cold season?

Guest Blogger – Miranda Lowery, CDE, RD

Miranda Lowery is a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), Registered Dietitian (RD), and Medtronic Diabetes Clinical Manager in Savannah, Georgia. Living with type 1 diabetes since the age of 2, she has dedicated her career to helping those living with diabetes learn to live a healthier, rewarding life with diabetes – “control diabetes instead of letting diabetes control you.” Prior to joining Medtronic, Miranda worked as a Clinical Nutrition Manager and Outpatient Dietitian.

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