You are: home > managing diabetes during winter

Managing Diabetes During Winter

This entry was posted in General December 20, 2017

Managing diabetes can be an everyday struggle, as nutrition and blood sugars always have to be under control. It is a condition that is often harder to manage during the winter period, as the immune system is attacked and cold temperatures can affect the blood sugar levels and the safety of extremities.

In the UK 4 million people live with the condition, the majority of them suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that causes the blood sugar levels to spike above average. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 where the immune system destroys the body’s insulin-producing cells and Type 2 where not enough insulin is produced by the body.

Here are some helpful tips if you are struggling this winter.

Protect extremities

Extremities, such as hands and feet are always the most vulnerable for people suffering from diabetes. When the temperature drops, there could be long-term issues ahead. If your hands are too cold, as it is often the case during winter, it might be increasingly hard for you to check your blood sugars, as less blood reaches your fingers. Wearing gloves is the most obvious solution to the problem.

Cold air and temperature can be a problem for your feet as well, which are more prone to cracking and dryness and eventually wounds and infections. For this reason, it is important for everybody suffering from diabetes to apply extra care to their feet during the winter period, using appropriate footwear and socks and moisturising them regularly.


Frequent exercise is a necessity for all diabetes sufferers, however, seeing early sunsets and snowy streets might convince some people to abandon their exercise routine in favour of big blankets and naps. When struggling with diabetes, it is important to never abandon your exercise routine, as this could negatively affect your blood sugar levels.

Exercise is especially good when dealing with winter blues. As the festive period is often stressful, exercise can clear your mind as well as help your body. Find exercise routines that you love such as swimming, tennis or Pilates and it won’t feel like something you have to do. If prioritising exercise is becoming too hard, incorporate it into your daily routine, walking to work or to the town centre instead of driving.

Keep your insulin out of the cold

Insulin freezes under extreme temperatures and the cold can affect the efficiency of your blood sugar monitor, for this reason, it is always a good idea to protect them. This can be done by keeping your insulin pen or pump close to your body heat and making sure the monitor is the protected in a case.

Check your blood levels

Extreme temperatures affect your blood sugar levels, for this reason, you should never guess your insulin supply, also known as basal rate, with the change of season. Always test it and if your blood sugar levels change, the basal rate should be altered accordingly, so contact your healthcare professional for more information.


Strengthen your immune system

During the winter period everyone’s immune system is weakened and we all need stronger defences to fight illness and infection. As Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which attacks the immune system, sufferers need to be particularly careful with their natural defences. When diabetics get ill, their blood sugar levels spike as a response to stress, making the management of the condition harder. For this reason, it is particularly important for diabetes sufferers to keep up to date with flu vaccination, get plenty of rest, stay warm and hydrated and disinfect their hands more often than usual.  When ill, it is important to maintain the insulin regime, check the blood sugar levels more often and eat small amounts of food more frequently. While it is important to protect oneself from colds and flu it is also fundamental to pay attention to cough syrups and teas which are often very high in sugars.

During the coldest months, a diabetes diagnosis is more likely, as our immune systems vary with the change of seasons. As a diabetic, your body’s natural ability to fight illness is undermined, putting stress on the body and consequently altering your sugar levels. Whilst diabetes has to be constantly managed, it is particularly important to pay more attention to the condition during the coldest months. Follow our advice for a more manageable winter.


Back to the top