What you Need to Know About Dehydration and Type 1 Diabetes
Dehydration is a problem that faces all of us, especially when the temperature rises. But if you have diabetes, your risk of becoming dehydrated is even higher. So, it’s vital to find ways to keep yourself hydrated and your blood sugar levels within normal parameters, particularly during the summer months or if you’re jetting off to sunnier climes.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a condition where your body is unable to produce adequate amounts of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels in the human body.
As a result, the level of glucose in the blood is too high and can cause symptoms, including:
- Extreme thirst
- Needing to pee more often
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
So, if your blood sugar levels are increased because there isn’t enough insulin to keep it under control, your kidneys must work harder to filter the extra sugar out of your blood. This can result in needing to pass water more often which in turn makes you thirsty because your body needs you to replace the lost fluid.
What is the normal blood sugar range?
Most healthy people should have a blood sugar level of between 4.0 and 5.4 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) of blood when they are not eating (fasting). However, this should rise to no more than 7.8 mmol/L 2 hours after eating.
Tips for staying hydrated if you live with type 1 diabetes
High blood sugar levels are a risk factor for dehydration. Water helps to keep your blood hydrated, particularly when the rest of your body is working extra hard to remove the excess glucose.
And water is the best fluid to drink because it contains no sugar and so cannot increase blood glucose levels. It also helps to flush out the excess sugar from the body. There are many things you can do, if you have type 1 diabetes, to keep yourself hydrated.
- Drink plenty of fluids. The best way to keep your body well hydrated is to drink plenty of fluids. Water is best but if you prefer something else switch to decaffeinated or sugar-free versions. If you drink alcohol, try to limit your intake as this can also dehydrate you.
- Be mindful when exercising. If you take part in physical activity you will need to replenish the water you lose in sweat. So, make sure you drink before, during and after your routine. If it’s hot outside consider whether it’s the right time to exercise. If it isn’t, wait until the evening or early morning when the temperatures are cooler.
- Look for the signs of heat exhaustion. If you have diabetes, you may be at a higher risk of heat exhaustion. That’s a problem if you are outside working or exercising or even just chilling outdoors. Be aware of the signs like dizziness, fainting muscle cramps, extreme sweating, nausea, fast heartbeat and headache. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical advice.
You can keep track of your hydration throughout the day with one of our Hydratem8 tracker bottles. They are convenient, easy to follow and stylish. Plus, they’ll encourage you to drink more water, especially if you’re not convinced you’re drinking enough!
Diabetes.co.uk. (2019). Blood Sugar Level Ranges. Available at: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes_care/blood-sugar-level-ranges.html
National Health Service. (2018). Symptoms and Getting Diagnosed. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-1-diabetes/symptoms-and-getting-diagnosed/