Does the Weather Affect Insulin Sensitivity?
The UK weather is often a topic of conversation, even if it is not the most exciting of subjects it will always do the trick of avoiding any awkward silences. It is needless to say, that it can be sunny outside now, and then start pouring down the next second. The weather is ever-changing, but what impact can the weather have on diabetes?
Does it mean we have to constantly keep tweaking our insulin doses? Read on and you will find the answers to your questions.
How can the weather affect insulin sensitivity?
Every person with T1D has a different response to food, to exercise, to stress, and to virtually everything you can think of. The same goes for weather. We can never generalise with Type 1, therefore we have explained the most common reactions that we can expect. We should mention, that these changes are commonly related to the temperature outside, rather than the actual weather, and therefore most often happen as seasons change, but this is different for everyone.
1. Cold = Less Insulin Sensitivity, Hot = More Insulin Sensitivity.
This seems to be the most common outcome of weather changes. There have been several research studies conducted on this topic, but unfortunately none are conclusive in terms of what exactly makes us more resistant and creates this need for insulin when it is cold.
Some suggestions are that people might move less or their diet changes towards more fat-heavy hearty foods, but some people may not change a single thing in their life and still get an increase/decrease in insulin needs up to 30-40% as the weather changes. These changes can gradually happen over several days or week, but they can also happen overnight, which can cause major hypo or hyper events.
It is very important to be aware of the way that your body responds and be able to address your insulin need changes quickly to avoid dangerous situations. On pumps, it can be easier, and on pens it might take a day or two to recognise them.
Don’t sit around looking at your blood sugars going up or down – just make the changes you need when necessary.
2. Cold = More Insulin Sensitivity, Hot = Less Insulin Sensitivity.
This outcome is a less frequent, but still occurs in many Type 1s and Type 2s. The only valid explanation for an increase in insulin needs with warmer weather is that the person experiencing it gets a stress response to hot weather and produces more adrenaline and cortisol, which increases insulin needs. Again, you should be mindful of your responses to the weather and adjust insulin needs accordingly.
3. No change in sensitivity due to weather.
This one is quite self-explanatory. Lucky you, if this is your case. You literally just can carry on with life, and don’t worry about changing your basal or bolus settings.
The weather does affect insulin needs for a lot of people. The reasons for that are not yet clear, but to some extent they do not matter. There is no need to stress about why you need an insulin change.
If you need more, give more. If you need less, give less. Keep adjusting and evaluating until you get your levels into place, whatever the weather is.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended as medical advice. Please, consult your medical team before making any changes to your diabetes management.
Author: Daria Arofikina