Planning an escape to the beach? It’s a great place to relax. And, there’s something special about sand between your toes and the sound of crashing waves. Don’t let diabetes stop you from enjoying a beach day. The key to managing your diabetes is to be prepared.
Here’s a closer look at some tips and suggestions that’ll help you have the best beach experience.
Keep It Cool
You feel the heat at the beach, and so do your diabetes supplies. Never store insulin in a hot car or in direct sunlight. It’s essential to keep your insulin cool and out of the sun to make sure it doesn’t lose its usefulness[i]. Remember, insulin breaks down faster when it’s at higher temperatures. Storing insulin in a cooler keeps it chilled throughout the day. Just avoid putting it directly on a gel pack or ice. Freezing insulin is just as bad as overheating it.
Remember that heat can also damage your diabetes equipment[ii]. Don’t let insulin pumps, blood sugar monitors, or other equipment sit in the heat — a hot car, direct sunlight, or out on the beach. This goes for test strips, too.
The heat, increased activity, and swimming can all result in unpredictable blood sugar levels. Test more often and watch your continuous glucose monitor (CGM), if you have one. Heat can spike your blood sugar levels — especially if you’re not hydrated. And, blood sugar can drop significantly if you’re very active.
Swimming might be your favorite thing to do at the beach. But, it uses a lot of energy. Swimming in the ocean often takes even more energy than swimming in a pool. Test your blood sugar before swimming to make sure you’re at a safe level for strenuous activity. Also, you may need to adjust insulin doses to account for the extra activity.
Have Plenty of Snacks
Nearly everyone takes snacks to the beach, but it’s more important when you have diabetes. Have some easy-to-carry snacks on hand to munch on in between meals to avoid low blood sugar. Snacks with fast-acting sugar or glucose tabs and gel should always be in your beach bag or cooler.
Take water and other hydrating drinks to the beach. Heat and dehydration may cause high blood sugar — which can dehydrate you even more[ii]. It’s easy to forget to drink when you’re enjoying the waves. But, take time to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Diabetes Devices and Water
While many insulin pumps and CGMs are water-resistant, be sure to check the manual. Some machines may be water-resistant to splashes, but not meant for swimming. Make sure you know before you head to the beach.
Wearing your device in the water, or simply sweating, causes the adhesives for your devices to unstick. Using device adhesives like Hollister Adhesive Spray, Rock Tape, or Skin Tac Adhesive Wipes helps keep your diabetes devices in place.
Be Ready to Explain
While most beachgoers you’ll encounter are kind, you should prepare yourself for comments or questions about your diabetes machines. You might meet someone that says something about your insulin pump. Others may simply have questions. Be ready to explain that your device helps you manage your diabetes and keep you healthy. All while still having a chance to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand.