Day 32: You Can Handle the Heat, But Can Your Insulin? 

It is hot here in Spain. Not that we’re complaining. After all of the cold rain storms in North Western Europe, it’s nice to have a change. 32 degrees Celsius is roughly 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though the temperature may feel balmy to you, insulin has a different set of standards. According to health officials, insulin needs to remain under 82*F in order to maintain its full power. It was a major concern as I packed my bags for the trip. How can I possibly keep my insulin cold when it’s so hot out?

The problem of keeping insulin cool is much more real when you’re abroad. This is because when you’re traveling around and walking everywhere, there aren’t as many opportunities to be in a cool place with air conditioning. Unlike the United States there are many buildings in Europe that don’t have air conditioning because they are so old.

If you are using a pump, it is especially important to remember that the insulin in your pump can lose its strength if it’s left out in the sun for too long. I learned the hard way. Neither the pump nor the insulin is immune to effects of the sun. The longer the insulin is in the sun the weaker it gets an the higher your blood sugars go. So take care to not be out in the sun for too long.

I made the problem much more complicated in my head, than in reality. All it really takes to keep insulin cold is a lunch box and some ice packs. If you stay in hostels, nearly all of the have a common refrigerator for everyone to use. Keeping your insulin in there over night will make it possible to make it stay cool all day long.

Lastly, be sure to give yourself a break from the sun every once in a while if you’re a pump user. Having a pump or blood glucose meter over heat is frustrating and raises your blood sugar, a recipe for disaster.

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