Hot Tips for Managing Diabetes in the Deep Winter Cold

winter tips with diabetes The weather outside is frightful! The temperatures are dropping and we are in the midst of deep winter cold.  Managing to stay warm can be a challenge on days like these.  How do you manage your diabetes as well? Here are a few things to remember…

Insulin freezes.

Insulin is liquid. It can freeze. Make sure not to leave insulin in your car.  When you are outside, keep it close to your body. This also means that if you are pumping, make sure to tuck your pump close to your body to keep things running properly.

If you think your insulin has been froze, throw it out! Don’t take any chances.  It will not work as efficiently once the proteins have been frozen.

Keep warm!

That means keeping your diabetes devices warm as well! I just told you to keep the insulin in your pump warm, but did you also know that your pump (like your phone) also needs to stay warm? Keep your pump and CGM under your winter clothing and as close to your body as you can.

If you are using a tSlim pump, watch for the low temperature warning on the pump.  This will tell you that your pump is not functioning as it should because of the cold.

Check your blood glucose level.

I know, you normally check but when it is cold out make sure that you still check…a lot.  Some people see their bg levels rise in the cold weather while others see it go up.  Don’t guess or go by how you feel–check then adjust with food or insulin.

Before you check, make sure that your meter is warm as well.  Glucometers function poorly below 40F (4C).  If you feel that your glucometer could be too cold, warm it in your armpit for a few minutes. It will quickly return to a functioning state.

Keep your hands warm.

It can be hard to check your blood glucose levels when fingers are cold and blood isn’t circulating properly.  Keep your hands warm and toasty to help making finger sticks a bit easier.  Wear warm gloves. You may want to consider using  mitts that have removable fingers to make it easier to check .

removable finger gloves for checking blood glucose
We found these gloves online.

Carry glucose that won’t freeze.

Juice packs are a handy way to treat lows but when you are playing in the snow, glucose tablets and granola bars are probably a better choice.  Also make sure to keep your glucagon warm and safe.  Frozen glucagon will be as useful as frozen insulin.


Winter activities can be fun but make sure you are prepared.  Follow some of these few hot tips and  enjoy your time in Mother Nature’s deep freeze!


Another bump in the diabetes learning curve

My son came home from school yesterday and we talked about what he had done during the day.  He told me about having whipped cream thrown at him by little kids and showed me the treats that he had been given.  After our chat, I asked for his meter.  I looked through it and saw that once again he had not bothered to test after his breakfast.  His first test was at lunch time and he was 23 (414). I was not impressed.

“I am guessing that not only did you NOT remember to test, but you also forgot to bolus your breakfast didn’t you?”

“Now Mom, would I do that?” He asked innocently as he began scrolling through his pump history.  “There is a bolus here at 7:30.  Oh wait, its just a correction. There doesn’t seem to be a breakfast bolus.  Oops.”

Once again I reminded him to test AND bolus.  He went off to do his thing and I was left to shake my head.  I felt a little guilty because I knew that I hadn’t given him the carb count for his meal that morning but I also know that he is pretty good at knowing it on his own.  End of guilt. He messed up.

Before I went to bed that evening, I asked him what his bg level was.  I use that number as a gauge of when I should set my internal alarm clock to get up during the night. He said he was 4.1 (73).  I asked him what he was going to do about that. He said that he had had a glucose gel.  I thought that that might have been a bit much since he had eaten a snack not long ago and asked him why the gel?

He replied, “Never drive when you are under five and never sleep if you are under six!”

Well he could certainly regurgitate the information that I have given him over the years but when would he actually use a bit more of it? I responded, “Great, you can remember the rules but you can’t remember to test and bolus in the morning?”

I rolled my eyes and left him to deal with his four (72) while I headed off to read.  The next morning he asked if he had been high the night before. I said that he was.  He said that it had taken him a lot of glucose to move past 4.1 so he was glad to see that at one point the sugar finally kicked in. Poor kid. What a thing to have to worry about before he could think about sleep.

The missed test and bolus in the morning didn’t kill him. It could have been worse–he did correct the high before breakfast and did correct before his lunch. We still have a long ways to go but its also good to know that we are making some progress. I still wish however that my son and I did not have to have any of this knowledge–that it was not so important for him to have to learn.

Exams and Diabetes…what a stressful combination!

Exam week is winding down and hopefully so are my nerves. My oldest is very self-sufficient and pretty serious about his grades. My youngest, well this is his first time around.

I find myself nervous for both of them. I want them to do well. I check in with both of them each day. I am sending good luck and wisdom vibes each morning. They are both great students so they should do quite fine but there is always worry.  Diabetes has added an entire new level of anxiety to the equation however.

As I have mentioned, we had been dealing with low, low, low and yep, more lows. I have dropped basal rates, added temporary rates, and changed carb to insulin ratios.  Because he is in exams for only the morning and then off for the rest of the day, I had seriously thought of switching him over to our “weekend” basal rate.  Then came the anxiety.

He was perfect on Monday for his first exam.  Readings before and after were exactly where I wanted them.  His performance was his own and was not marred by highs or lows.  To change to the weekend pattern would adjust some of the early morning basals.  This could mess with the perfection I had going! I couldn’t do it. I left things as they were, tweaking the “school day” rates.

All night I was anxious.  I had anxiety attacks and woke up feeling horrible.  Did I do right? Would he be okay for day 2? No, not really.  Diabetes decided to mess with that and he ran high for exam number two.  Day three was a bit better.  He seemed in range although I can’t say for sure because he forgot to test when he started the exam but he was in range by the time he was done and reviewing what he had done. 

Today is day four. He knows his stuff cold. Its science and he really seems to understand the concepts.  I am hoping for some positive results so he can see that his hard work (Mom making him study for the past two weeks) really paid off. He is nervous about his last exam but he has decided to meet with his teacher for some extra help today before tomorrow’s exam.  I am excited by the fact that he is beginning to take some responsibility for his grades without too much pestering from Mom.

Two more full days and I am shed myself of the “school days” anxiety.  Two more days and we can fight with basal rates again without fear of messing with school testing. Two more days and I will have about 10 days to get his summer rates sorted before he heads off to spend time with his father and his brother.  That will bring a new load of anxiety and stress as I worry about him testing and bolusing while he is away but we will take one set of worries at a time for now!