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Cold Weather - How It Can Affect Diabetic Patients?

Dr. Aastha Gupta 90% (95 ratings)
MBBS, MD - General Medicine, Certification In Diabetes
Endocrinologist, Delhi  •  10 years experience
Cold Weather - How It Can Affect Diabetic Patients?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by Hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose level) due to either reduced production of insulin or the inability of the body to utilize the insulin produced. Today management of diabetes has become a prime concern. Over the winter months, diabetic patients are likely to suffer from higher blood glucose levels than during the warmer months. As the temperature drops and the sugar levels up, thus, diabetic patients should be extra careful about the temperature fluctuations or seasonal changes.The cold weather makes diabetics experience many health problems, besides creating a major change in their sugar levels.

Following are the most harmful effects that diabetic patients may suffer from during the cold weather

  1. Change in hemoglobin level: There is a great change in their glycated hemoglobin levels. Whatever the type of diabetes an individual has, the freezing temperature can increase the level of HbA1c or glycated hemoglobin. This is most likely because of decreased physical activity. Cold weather makes it difficult for some people to go out. A little activity each day can help with insulin sensitivity (in all types of diabetes) which can help the body to regulate sugar level in a better way.
  2. Prone to diseases: Since the immune system is also not at its best strength in winters, there are increased incidences of microbial infections like cold and flu or in some cases pneumonia. As a result, the body produces counterregulatory hormones (Cortisol, Adrenaline, and Glucagon) to counteract the situation. These hormones affect the utilization of insulin by the body thereby elevating the blood glucose level. Also, conditions like flu and cold tend to make them feel lethargic and stress and can prevent them from taking the diet, which is required, which eventually can lead to an increase in the blood sugar level.
  3. Winter blues: It is often seen that people feel low during winters, as they tend to go out less and prefer to stay indoors. Less outdoor activity during winters can sometimes trigger mood swings or in some cases depression, which in turn can shoot up the level of blood sugar in their body. Thus it is advisable that one should spend more time with friends and family, in order to keep these blues at bay. 
  4. Other problems: Most diabetic people are unaware of their nerve functions, and are unable to feel the difference between the cold and hot water, which can lead to burn injury. Also, during the winter season, most diabetic patients tend to lose feeling in their toes and feet due to vascular changes. Therefore, it is advisable that people should check their feet frequently, so as to ensure that there is no open wound or pressure area in their feet. One must take very good care of their feet, keep them moisturized, inner fingers clean and dry, prevent any type of fungal growth in toes, etc. By taking required preventive measures before the onset of winters diabetic patients can control their blood sugar level, which enables them to stay away from associated problems. 

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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