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Hot Stuff

If you’re suffering from the heat, so is your equipment!

Temperature can alter the results of blood glucose tests in a variety of ways—watch out for that!

Loss of reliability

Strips, insulin, insulin pumps and the like are sensitive to heat. That’s why it’s important to read storage temperature and usage condition instructions carefully. If necessary, ask your pharmacist for more information.

If, for example, test strips or the glucose meter are not in proper working order and your test results are inaccurate, you won’t be able to calculate the amount of insulin you really need. Whether you’re insulin-dependent or not, you may not realize you’re slipping into hypo- or hyperglycemia before it’s too late.

Insulin stays in the fridge!

Insulin can be kept at room temperature—meaning, under 30°C—for a few days or even close to a month. (In any case, unless otherwise stated on the package, you should never use a product that’s been open for more than 28 days.) It’s better to keep it in a cool place before use so it doesn’t lose its effectiveness. Note that it mustn’t be frozen, either. When keeping a supply of insulin in the refrigerator, make sure the temperature remains between 2 and 8°C.

If you inject a dose of insulin that meets your needs but your blood glucose remains high, it could be because the medication isn’t working as it should. In that case, don’t take any chances: change the vial or cartridge.

Also, inspect your product before each use. If it appears to have changed colour or texture, replace it.

What about insulin pumps?

Don’t expose your pump to direct sunlight or heat; it might become obstructed, among other risks. Plus, the insulin in it might be denatured. Consider replacing it more often.

A few tips

  • Keep your blood glucose meter and all your equipment in a dark, cool and dry place. Don’t leave them in your car or in direct sunlight when going to the beach or the pool, for example.
  • If you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, keep your equipment and medication in a cooler. Careful, though: insulin should never be in direct contact with ice or an ice pack.
  • Another great solution: insulated pouches. Various carrying bags, containers and other accessories are also available to keep your equipment at the right temperature.
  • If you’re travelling by plane, keep all your necessities in your carry-on luggage. They would get too cold in the hold.

It’s especially important to keep your equipment with you in hot weather, since heat causes blood glucose levels to fluctuate. Remember to test it more often!

References:
Agence nationale de santé du médicament et des produits de santé, “Conservation des médicaments en cas de vague de chaleur”: http://www.ansm.sante.fr/var/ansm_site/storage/original/application/5c90cb289e3e931688fa8c9bee5fd26e.pdf. Accessed July 25, 2017.
Agence nationale de santé du médicament et des produits de santé, “Informations sur le suivi glycémique (lecteur de glycémie en cas de vague de chaleur”: http://www.ansm.sante.fr/var/ansm_site/storage/original/application/ccc68575079607ff6a5a00890fc466b1.pdf. Accessed July 25, 2017.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Managing Diabetes in the Heat”: https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesheattravel/index.html. Accessed July 24, 2017.
Diabetes Québec, “All about injections”: http://www.diabete.qc.ca/en/living-with-diabetes/care-and-treatment/drugs-and-insulin/all-about-injections. Accessed July 25, 2017.
Diabetes.co.uk, “Blood Glucose Meter Accuracy”: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/blood-glucose-meters/blood-glucose-meter-accuracy.html. Accessed July 24, 2017.
Diabetes.co.uk, “Diabetes and Hot Weather – Staying Safe in the Heat”: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-and-hot-weather.html. Accessed July 24, 2017.
Diabetes.co.uk, “Keeping Insulin Cool”: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/travel/keeping-insulin-cool.html. Accessed July 24, 2017.
Doskicz, Jewels, “Don’t Let the Summer Heat Ruin Your Diabetes Medicine”: http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-information-articles/general/990-don-t-let-the-summer-heat-ruin-your-diabetes-medicine. Accessed July 24, 2017.
Klobassa Davidson, Nancy, R.N., and Peggy Moreland, R.N., Certified Diabetes Educator, “Beware summer extremes with insulin,” in Living with diabetes blog, Mayo Clinic, June 17, 2011: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-blog/diabetes-blog/bgp-20056534. Accessed July 24, 2017.
Klobassa Davidson, Nancy, R.N., and Peggy Moreland, R.N., Certified Diabetes Educator, “Heat and diabetes,” in Living with diabetes blog, Mayo Clinic, June 7, 2012: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-blog/heat-and-diabetes/bgp-20056563. Accessed July 24, 2017.
WebMD, “Guidelines for Buying and Using Diabetes Supplies”: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guidelines-for-buying-and-using-diabetes-supplies#1. Accessed July 24, 2017.