Traveling with diabetes
Summer, sun travel time with diabetes
Whether you're travelling in the summer months or staying at home, we've put together a few tips to help you get through the hot days.
Most people travel to warm regions in the summer, and even at home it can get quite hot. For diabetics, this means keeping their insulin storage quite cool. This is also very important for the blood glucose test strips. However, the insulin that is currently in use should not be stored in the refrigerator. Insulin that is too cold hurts during the injection. Without cooling, insulin is best for 3 to 4 weeks. When travelling or staying outdoors, special cooling bags are recommended. Under no circumstances should insulin or blood sugar test strips be placed in the freezer. The glove compartment of the car is absolutely a no-go option. This can easily heat up to 70 °C when parking in the sun.
Heat does not only influence the medication, but also the blood sugar level. One reason for this is that sweating causes the hydration balance to get mixed up, the other is that we often engage in unusual physical activities during the holidays and have a different diet in foreign countries. For this reason, it makes sense to check your glucose levels more often in summer.
Those who enjoy taking walks along the beach during their holidays should avoid doing so barefoot. A small injury caused by a piece of broken glass, for example, can otherwise ruin your entire vacation.
In addition to these tips, all diabetics should of course take the same precautions as all travelers: e.g. get the necessary vaccinations before travelling. Make sure you have sufficient sun protection at your destination or swimming pool and drink enough.
What belongs in the (diabetes) first-aid kit?
Painkillers and diarrhoeal drugs, sticking plasters - everyone has them in their first-aid kit. We'll tell you about the special features for people with diabetes in the following.
Insulin or tablets for diabetes are available almost all over the world. However, the medicines are not the same everywhere. Therefore you should not only know the brand names but also the names of the active ingredients. Then it's easier to get a replacement on holiday.
Having sufficient stocks
It is important to take plenty of insulin with you instead of wasting your precious vacation time on the procurement of medication. It is best to pack double your ration. Then you are prepared for any eventuality. To be on the safe side, you should not pack all your rations in the same place. Then it is not a catastrophe if the suitcase lands at another airport than yourself.
Sufficient test strips and lancets for the glucose control device also belong in the luggage. These are often not available in foreign countries.
So that blood glucose devices and insulin pumps do not run out of power, you should take spare batteries with you. For devices with rechargeable batteries, the charger should also be included in the luggage. In some countries you also need an adapter plug. In addition, the charger must be able to withstand the voltage customary in the country.
Those diabetics requiring insulin should always take a spare pen with them on longer journeys and think of enough pen needles. A couple of disposable syringes are very useful in case of a pen loss. Pump carriers should also think about sufficient pump equipment. It may be difficult to get dextrose, which is easy to obtain in your country. For this reason, take plenty of this with you. The glucagon emergency set should of course always be available during the entire holiday.
Traveling with diabetes
Travelling by plane is very popular - one reason is that you can reach your destination very quickly. But for diabetics there is a lot to consider when travelling by plane.
With pen needles and lancets through the Security Check
However, diabetic equipment in your hand luggage means that you have to go through the security check with the medication, pen needles, lancets and measuring devices. There are exceptions for these things. In order to avoid misunderstandings, you should immediately draw the attention of the inspectors to the fact that you are a diabetic and show off your equipment unsolicited. You should also have a multilingual medical certificate and a diabetic passport. If possible, the medication should be carried in its original packaging together with an instruction leaflet. In any case, medicines and equipment must be labelled with the manufacturer's name. Lancets and syringes must be covered with a cap and used needles must be placed in solid plastic containers. Pen needles, insulin syringes, etc. may only be taken into the aircraft cabin if insulin is also brought along.
Insulin pumps can cause problems in scanners or metal detectors, so it is best to say right away that you are wearing an insulin pump and show this and the medical certificate.
The insulin adjustment for time changes is a rather complicated matter, which you should discuss with your doctor before travelling abroad. If you are flying west, the day will be longer and more insulin should be injected. If you are flying east, the day will be shorter and the insulin dose will have to be reduced. Type 2 diabetics can take their doses according to their local time and compensate for their blood sugar levels by increasing their dietary intake in the east and decreasing it in the west. In case of doubt it is better to test once before once too less. By the way, taking a bloodsugar test in an airplane is not a problem, since modern machines have a pressurized cabin that allows measurements at great heights as well as on the ground.
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