Hot tubs can be dangerous for people with diabetes because they increase the risk of burns and infections
As relaxing as a hot tub can be, people with diabetes need to exercise caution before dipping their toes in the water because hot tubs can lead to serious complications. Learn about the risks and what precautions you should take.
What are the risks of using a hot tub if you have diabetes?
Hot tubs pose the following health risks to people with diabetes:
- Peripheral neuropathy: Some people with diabetes suffer peripheral neuropathy, which occurs when nerve damage leads to decreased sensation, especially in the lower extremities (legs and feet). Therefore, there is a risk that they may not realize how high the temperature is, resulting in burns that may be difficult to heal.
- Slow wound healing: People with diabetes also have slow wound healing. If an open wound is exposed to bacteria in a hot tub and becomes infected, it can lead to serious consequences such as loss of the extremity or even death.
- Overheating: Excessive heat can make the heart beat faster, which is dangerous for people with diabetes because heat can interfere with the rate at which the body absorbs insulin. Heat can also cause problems with insulin pump functioning.
What precautions should people with diabetes take before going in a hot tub?
Hot tubs are not always bad for you if you have diabetes. Heat can actually increase blood flow, which allows more nutrient-rich blood to reach your muscles. This can reduce your blood glucose levels in addition to helping you relax. However, you should lower your risk of health complications by taking a few precautions:
Take care of your feet
Make sure you have no cuts or burns on your feet. Take proper care of your feet by washing them in warm water and consider using foot powder or cornstarch to absorb excess moisture and prevent infection.
Protect your heart health
Excessive heat can make your heart beat faster, which can lead to heart damage if you have any underlying heart problem. Talk to your doctor before using a hot tub.
Even if you don’t have any heart issues, it is recommended to leave the hot tub after 20 minutes and avoid using it alone.
Beware of burns
If you have peripheral neuropathy, use a thermometer to check the water temperature before stepping in. Make sure the water temperature is 105 F (40.5 C) or lower. Dip your elbow in first to test the water.
Make sure the tub is clean
The cleaner the tub, the lower the risk of getting infected by harmful microorganisms. Stay out of the water if you have an open wound.
Medically Reviewed on 6/1/2022