High heat puts diabetics at risk

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – High temperatures during the summer can present significant health risks for people with diabetes.

This is a big problem for people in eastern North Carolina. About nine percent of people in the U.S. have diabetes, but some counties in the East have almost 15 percent.

Diabetes makes it harder for your body to handle high heat and humidity.

Dehydration is one of the main issues. It can increase blood sugar, which can lead to serious complications. So doctors advise staying well hydrated — drinking lots of water, no soda.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is also an issue. Common symptoms include sweating and shaking. But if it’s hot outside, it’s harder for diabetics to determine if they’re sweating from the heat or from low blood sugar.

WNCT spoke with Dr. Robert Tanenberg with the Brody School of Medicine who is also the Director for the Diabetes and Obesity Institute. He said it’s all about being prepared.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you can keep yourself hydrated or keep yourself from getting hypoglycemic, then you can save yourself a trip to the emergency room. You can save yourself a catastrophe,” Tanenberg said.

On average, diabetics test their blood sugar about eight times a day. But in the summer, Dr. Tanenberg recommends checking more frequently.

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