I was recently on vacation at a resort that had a few hot tubs for guests to use.  While walking my daughter in her stroller around and around to help her take a nap, I noticed a big warning sign above each spa that said people with diabetes should consult a physician before using a hot tub.  There were many other warnings, but this particular one stuck out for obvious reasons.  I have seen these signs before, but they just had a generic warning about people with “health issues” and not specifically diabetes.  I’ve used hot tubs on occasion and have had diabetes for some time now and never had an issue.  I wondered what the warning could be referring to that’s dangerous for diabetics.  I had a few guesses, but didn’t know for sure.

Why do you think it may be dangerous for a diabetic to be in a hot tub?

After doing a little reading online, I quickly learned that there have been some studies that suggest type 2 diabetics may benefit from hot tub therapy.  I also learned that there have been deaths linked to diabetics in hot tubs.  When I read the sign, the first thing that came to mind was that the resort was just trying to C.Y.A. against a potential lawsuit.  Some of the potential benefits of hot tub therapy that I read were; reduction in blood sugars, weight loss and improved sleep patterns. [source]

When using a hot tub in the past, I would wonder how the very hot water and gyrations could impact the effectiveness of my infusion set.  Would the stickiness last as long after a few rounds in a hot tub?  Would the hot water impact the absorption of insulin after getting out?  Could I be more susceptible to an infection because of the hot water and irritation around the infusion site?  Obviously, I would never enter a hot tub with my insulin pump still attached.  But these may be real concerns that other could have.  I have never had an issue with these questions posed above – never did mine lose stickiness, get infected or did I notice an absorption issue. 

hot tub toes

[not my toes - I prefer sparkly blue]

The dangers of using a hot tub as a diabetic are really two-fold.  The two main issues you could have are:

  1. Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) in hands and feet could affect one’s ability to tell if the water is too hot leading to burns.  I guess one way to overcome this is to test like you would a baby’s bottle and use your forearm.  This may be a little difficult to do in reality.  I wonder if this has really happened or if it’s just urban legend.  I did read that toddlers and infants can get burned by the temperature, but I would suspect that it’s rare an adult would get burned.
  2. Passing out due to a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) could be very dangerous.  My thought here is that passing out from a low blood sugar is pretty freakin’ dangerous regardless of where you are.  Why let diabetics in a pool then?  What about driving a 2-ton motor vehicle? Operating machinery? The list could go on and on.

I won’t say that you can be all cavalier and do whatever you want, but I will say to use some simple common sense.  Test out the water temperature first before going in and try to no go alone.  I mean really, who whips out their cell phone, calls a doctor, gets her on the line and checks first?  No one.

Does anyone know of other dangers as a diabetic using a hot tub?