Planning an escape to the beach when the weather gets warm? It’s a great place to relax, and there’s something special about sand between your toes and the sound of crashing waves. The key to managing your diabetes while enjoying a beach day is to be prepared.
You don’t want anything to get in the way of a day enjoying the sand and sun. To make sure you have a perfect beach getaway, here’s a closer look at some tips and suggestions that’ll help you have the best experience while managing your diabetes.
Keep Insulin Cool
You feel the heat at the beach, and so do your diabetes medicines, equipment, and 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 efficacy[i]. Remember, insulin breaks down faster when it’s at higher temperatures. Putting insulin in a cooler can keep it cool 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 a hot car, in direct sunlight, or out on the beach. This goes for test strips, too.
Test Before Swimming and Regularly
The heat, being more active, and swimming can all result in unpredictable blood sugar levels at the beach. Test more often or watch your continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Heat can spike your blood sugar levels, especially if you’re not hydrated, or blood sugar can drop very low if you’re very active.
Swimming might be your favorite thing to do at the beach, but it uses a lot of energy, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Swimming in the ocean often takes even more energy than swimming in a pool. Test 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
Obviously, nearly everyone takes snacks to the beach, but it’s more important when you have diabetes. Low blood sugars can happen, even when you’re enjoying a day oceanside. Have some easy-to-carry snacks on hand to munch on in between meals or if you have a 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, and high blood sugar can dehydrate you even more[iii]. It’s easy to forget to drink when you’re actually in the water and enjoying the waves. But take time out to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Your Insulin Pump or CGM 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, while others may be fine for actual swimming. Make sure you know before you head to the beach.
If you’re wearing your device in the water, or simply sweating more in the sun, the adhesives for your diabetes devices might not stick as well. Using device adhesives like Hollister Adhesive Spray, Rock Tap, or Skin Tac Adhesive Wipes can all help you keep your diabetes devices in place.
Preparing for Comments About Your Machines
While most people you’ll encounter at the beach are kind, you should prepare yourself for comments or questions about your diabetes machines. You might meet someone that says something nasty about you wearing a CGM or insulin pump on the beach. Others may simply have a question. Be ready to explain that your device helps keep you alive and helps you manage your diabetes while still having a chance to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand.
The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.
Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.