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DIABETES + THE HEAT

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As much as everyone welcomes warm weather, the New York Times reported (June 28, 2010) that heat can prove challenging to anyone -- but particularly hazardous to those with diabetes.  

Studies have shown an increase in emergency room visits in those who have diabetes, when temperatures are high.

One of the complications in both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes is an impaired ability to adjust to rises in temperature. Nerve damage is present  in 60 to 70 percent of Americans with diabetes, and affects nearly every organ in the body, including sweat glands -- and when sweat glands aren't working properly, the body fails to cool down as the mercury rises.

In one study, scientists compared diabetic patients with a group of healthy control subjects, exposing both groups to increasing temperatures. The subjects were hooked up to devices that measured skin temperature, core temperature and sweat rates. As temperatures rose, the control subjects’ perspiration rates increased proportionately; their core temperatures stayed constant.

“For subjects with diabetes, sweat seemed to plateau irrespective of an alarming rise in core temperature,” the scientists wrote. “The diabetic subjects’ generalized inability to sweat across the body had a profound effect on core temperature.”

Research conducted by The Mayo Clinic in Arizona concluded that diabetic patients have higher rates of adverse events — like hospitalizations, dehydration and death — in the heat. Further, their survey found that many diabetics were unaware of the greater risk and the need for special precautions.

Sources:

Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N.

Peggy Moreland, R.N.

The New York Times


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