Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience
Winter is here and thanks to climate change, it is one of the coldest winters most of us have recently experienced. The cold weather brings its own set of challenges, especially for people with diabetes. Most people with diabetes tend to have higher HbA1c levels in cold winter months as compared to the warmer months.  This happens because the body produces more glucose to keep warm in winter; but for people with diabetes, this ends up being more harmful than helpful.
Hence, it is a good idea to keep a tab of your lifestyle management as the temperature drops and make a few productive changes to your daily routine.
Dr. Parinita Kaur, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi shares some essential tips on how people with diabetes can stay warm while surviving the winter season in good health.
Use hot water bags or electric blankets correctly
Hot water bags or blankets should not be in direct contact with bare skin as skin sensitivity may be impaired in people with diabetes. They can thus easily get superficial or even severe skin burns. Always keep a barrier, such as a hand towel or a folded dupatta, between the skin and the device. When possible, use such devices when someone else is around to supervise.
Take extra care of your skin
Lowered skin sensitivity in winter, especially among those who have neuropathy, may mean that minor skin injuries can get overlooked due to numbness or lack of pain sensation. Thus, inspect your body, especially your hands and feet, daily to look for any wounds/burns/cuts. Keep your skin well moisturised to reduce chances of abrasions (scraping of the skin) that can lead to injuries.
Exercise regularly, more so during winter months
It is important to follow your exercise regimen to control your blood sugar levels, increase your insulin sensitivity and keep you warm. Do keep in mind that any sort of physical activity can directly affect the blood sugar levels for up to 48 hours, apart from improving your metabolism.
Many weight issues in winters crop up due to the low activity levels and the body’s cravings for carbs to deal with the cold. This can be handled with a regular exercise regimen and disciplined diet routine.
Don’t reduce your water intake
Winters make us feel more hungry than thirsty. But even if your body is not giving you any thirst signals, it still needs water to function effectively. Ensure that you have between one to three litres of water consciously. Sufficient water intake is also essential for managing blood sugar levels.
Other precautions during winter season
People with diabetes and other chronic conditions may be prone to complications, such as flu or pneumonia, during winter. Schedule a meeting with your doctor to know if you need to take any preventive shots or vaccines.
Take good care of yourself so you don’t get any winter blues and enjoy the cold weather!
- Tsujimoto T1, Yamamoto-Honda R, Kajio H, Kishimoto M, Noto H From the Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, Tokyo. Seasonal variations of severe hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and non-diabetes mellitus: clinical analysis of 578 hypoglycemia cases. Medicine (Baltimore). 2014 Nov;93(23):e148. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000000148. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25415670/%5D/