A COLD weather health warning has been issued to Brits living with diabetes as freezing temperatures sweep the UK.
Snow and ice warnings cover the length of the country today with medics urging Brits to check in on the most vulnerable.
Freezing conditions have been seen in many parts of the UK – with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) having issued a Level 3 Cold Weather Alert.
This has now been extended until Monday 23 after first being issued on January 16.
Around 4.9 million Brits are living with diabetes with millions more not yet having been diagnosed, Diabetes UK states.
The charity today issued some advice for how people living with the condition can cope in the cold weather.
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“It really is important to stay warm, because the cold can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes – and diabetes makes people more at risk of these complications," Douglas Twenefour, Head of Care at Diabetes UK said.
“We know the cost-of-living crisis may affect your ability to heat your home, but you might be entitled to grants or benefits to help make your home more energy efficient.
"Follow NHS advice and heat your home to at least 18C in the rooms you regularly use and keep bedroom windows closed at night," he added.
For those worried about the cold weather impacts, the charity said it's important to closely monitor your blood sugar levels.
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If you usually check your blood sugar levels, do this more often and be ready to adjust your diet or insulin dose, if you take insulin, guidance states.
You should also check your feet for any issues and keep a close eye on your medication.
"It can freeze so don’t leave it in a car overnight. Extreme temperatures can affect diabetes tech, so follow manufacturers’ guidance and avoid exposing it to the cold weather," they said.
And it's not just people with diabetes who have been urged to take extra care.
Those with asthma and other lung conditions are also at risk, medics at Asthma + Lung UK state.
Research from the charity shows that weather is a trigger for 68 per cent of people with asthma and 67 per cent of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Erika Radford, Head of Health Advice at Asthma + Lung UK said: "The cold can cause life-threatening asthma attacks, and dangerous flare-ups in people with other lung conditions.
“Where possible, we would advise people with a lung condition to heat their home to at least 18C in the cold weather, although we realise this will be a challenge for many this winter, but it’s crucial that people stay warm in order to avoid emergency hospital admissions and severe respiratory infections."
There are other steps that people can take to protect their lungs during a cold snap, Erika said.
"For instance, it is better to wear several layers of clothes rather than one bulky layer as these trap heat next to the body more effectively than one thick, bulky layer; it is also important to have plenty of hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day.
“As viral infections can also exacerbate respiratory symptoms, it’s best to avoid contact with people who have flu or a cold if you have a lung condition, and it’s crucial that you continue to take daily medication, such as reliever and preventer inhalers for asthma, as prescribed," she added.
While advice is in place urging people to heat their homes, many cannot afford to due to the cost of living crisis.
If people are struggling, the UKHSA has advised they seek help from Simple Energy Advice which provides free advice on energy efficiency and national grants that are available to help keep you warm this winter.
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Guidance states that if people can’t heat all the rooms they use, it’s important to heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before going to sleep.
"Wearing several layers of thinner clothing will keep you warmer than one thicker layer. Having plenty of hot food and drinks is also effective for keeping warm," they added.
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