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Are Your Symptoms Related to the Heat — or Signs of Diabetes?

Are Your Symptoms Related to the Heat — or Signs of Diabetes?

Are Your Symptoms Related to the Heat — or Signs of Diabetes?

With summer quickly approaching, bright and hot days are ahead for us. Summer heat can cause a number of symptoms, particularly on the hottest days. How can you tell if your symptoms are from the heat or signs of diabetes?

Telling the difference can be tricky. Many symptoms related to heat exposure can also be symptoms of diabetes. To tell the difference, you need to pay close attention to your overall health.

How the Heat Affects Our Health

When it’s hot outside and you’re spending time outdoors, it’s quite normal to feel the effects. You may find yourself being thirstier, sweating more, and feeling more tired at the end of the day.

In some cases, exposure to the heat can also lead to heat-related illnesses, which can range from mild to life-threatening. You’ve probably experienced a sunburn or two, but heat-related illnesses also include more serious health issues, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

While heat stroke is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention, symptoms of other heat-related illnesses typically resolve quickly when you move indoors, and your body temperature cools down.

The Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person has high blood sugar levels. There are multiple types of diabetes, including Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy.

The different types of diabetes occur for different reasons, but all cause blood sugar to elevate, which can damage blood vessels throughout the body. This can lead to complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve damage.

Many symptoms of diabetes overlap with the way we feel when we’re outside on a hot July day as the temperature soars into the upper 80s.

People with diabetes may experience a wide range of symptoms related to high blood sugar, including:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Increased thirst
  • Skin changes, including thickening or hard skin
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Weight loss

People who have Type 1 diabetes may also experience nausea, vomiting, and other stomach-related symptoms. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes often develop over a few weeks or months. Symptoms of developing Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, may take years to develop or be less noticeable, like slowly losing weight.

Understanding Your Risk for Diabetes

How can you tell whether your symptoms are a reaction to the heat or related to diabetes? Some key indicators can be whether symptoms resolve when your body cools down or if you feel better and less tired on days you aren’t out in the sun.

It’s also important to consider your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes or other factors that put you at a higher risk of developing diabetes, it’s worth having your symptoms checked out by a medical provider.

In addition to the overlap between being affected by the heat and symptoms of diabetes, the heat and diabetes also share another connection.

If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll need to pay special attention when you’re outside during warmer weather. Those who have diabetes are at a higher risk of experiencing the heat-related illnesses we mentioned above. The heat impacts someone with diabetes in multiple ways:

  • Complications associated with high blood sugar, like nerve damage, can damage the body’s sweat glands, impacting its ability to cool down.
  • Exposure to high temperatures can change how the body uses insulin, causing blood sugar to fluctuate.
  • Those who have diabetes can become dehydrated more quickly, making it especially important to drink plenty of fluids.

The bottom line? Pay attention to your body when it’s hot outside. If your symptoms linger even when you’re in the air conditioned cool, talk with a medical provider about what you’re experiencing. And if you have diabetes, be especially careful in the heat.

Regular checkups with a primary care provider can help you keep an eye on your overall health, including your blood sugar. Has it been a while since you had a checkup? Find a provider here.