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Summer Heat Hits Diabetics - KOAM TV 7

Summer Heat Hits Diabetics

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Four-staters dealing with diabetes are staying out of the heat and humidity. For them, the weather isn't just uncomfortable; it can be dangerous. 

Troy Ellis was diagnosed with diabetes two months ago. His first summer with the condition is an adjustment.

"I get dizzy out in the heat," Ellis said. "I get real dizzy. "It feels like i'm gonna pass out."

He's at Mercy Hospital for a doctor's appointment with Gretchen Shull, who says heat and humidity can be a dangerous combination for folks with diabetes. And the Midwest weather is particularly unforgiving. 

"Probably just because of adding the humidity factor to it," Shull said. "And the changes in weather from day to day. Especially if you have a job or activities outside."

The rate of hospitalizations due to diabetes is nearly 68% higher in the city of Joplin than all of Missouri. And when the temperature is high, so is the risk. 

Dehydration can cause blood glucose levels to rise. Inflammation from sunburn can raise blood sugar levels, causing insulin resistance.

Ellis says the heat can cause his blood sugar levels to top 400. "And it's never supposed to be over 150," Ellis said. 

High temperatures can even affect test strip accuracy, damage medication, and insulin pumps.

"If you have insulin that's been left out in 100 degree temperatures, the insulin is no longer effective," Shull said. "It would be basically the same as taking water."

"I keep [insulin] in the refrigerator. Or I keep a cooler with a ziplock bag and keep it in the cooler," Ellis said.

"One of the number one things that we encourage diabetic patients to do is plan and try to prepare for the unknown," Shull said. 

Doctors recommend staying hydrated with plenty of water, taking extra blood-sugar tests, and remaining active despite the weather. 

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