The effects of type 1 and type 2 diabetes on the body's physiological response to thermal stress is a relatively new topic in research. Diabetes tends to place individuals at greater risk for heat-related illness during heat waves and physical activity due to an impaired capacity to dissipate heat. Specifically, individuals with diabetes have been reported to have lower skin blood flow and sweating responses during heat exposure and this can have important consequences on cardiovascular regulation and glycemic control. Those who are particularly vulnerable include individuals with poor glycemic control and who are affected by diabetes-related complications. On the other hand, good glycemic control and maintenance of aerobic fitness can often delay the diabetes-related complications and possibly the impairments in heat loss. Despite this, it is alarming to note the lack of information regarding diabetes and heat stress given the vulnerability of this population. In contrast, few studies have examined the effects of cold exposure on individuals with diabetes with the exception of its therapeutic potential, particularly for type 2 diabetes. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding the impact of diabetes on heat and cold exposure with respect to the core temperature regulation, cardiovascular adjustments and glycemic control while also considering the beneficial effects of maintaining aerobic fitness.
Keywords: cardiovascular; cold stress; fitness; glycemia; heat stress; type 1 diabetes; type 2 diabetes.