There is lots to think about when getting ready to go travelling with diabetes.
This post will cover what might happen to your sugar levels, general tips about travelling and how to keep your insulin safe in the heat.
The heat can cause low blood sugar levels for some people. When temperatures rise, the body dilates blood vessels to help us cool down. Dilated blood vessels can cause insulin to absorb more rapidly, resulting in a hypo. Bear this in mind and carry multiple hypo snacks.
The heat can also cause high blood sugar for some people. As I will explain below, hot temperatures can damage insulin meaning it doesn’t work properly. My best advice is to check your sugars more frequently so you catch hypo’s and hyper’s early.
If you are changing time zones, I strongly advice talking to your consultant or doctor first. You can make a plan together to safely adjust your insulin throughout your trip.
If insulin is left in direct sunlight or heat for a prolonged period of time, it will cause the insulin to ‘denature’.
This means the insulin is damaged and it will not work properly when injected into the body. This of course can cause high sugar levels because the insulin is not doing its job.
Therefore, it is vital to keep your insulin in the shade, and/or in a cool pack to prevent this from happening.
I recommend checking amazon out for insulin cool packs. This will allow you to enjoy your time at the beach (or whatever you are doing) without worrying about your insulin.
Also make sure you take spare insulin cartridges to replace damaged insulin. Sometimes it does happen and there isn’t much we can do about it. Keep yourself covered so this doesn’t stop you from having fun!
CGM’s and pumps
When travelling with a pump you will need to adjust the time zone on the pump to make sure you are receiving the correct amount of basal insulin.
Furthermore, heat can cause sensors to stop working sometimes, so it is important to take breaks and get your sensor out of the sun.
Always take spares – this covers any faulty sensors, or if your holiday gets extended due to flight cancellations or changing plans.
* Pumps and CGM’s should not go through airport scanners. This is because the x-rays can damage them. Make sure you get a doctors note explaining this and always carry a copy with you when travelling.
Also take a finger stick monitor and insulin pens with you to cover yourself. The last thing you want when travelling is to be panicking and trying to access medication.
Summary check list
- Spare pumps
- Spare CGM’s or FGM’s
- Insulin pens (both basal and bolus)
- Spare insulin cartridges for pen/pump
- Testing monitor
- Finger stick needles
- Finger stick testing strips
- Ketone strips and monitor
- Cool pack for insulin
- Hypo snacks for the journey/duration of the holiday
- Plenty of water
- Hand wipes
- Medical tape (I always pack this incase my sensor becomes loose in the water/heat)
- Doctors note to go through security with diabetic supplies
*Ensure you take enough supplies for the duration of your trip + a few days extra. Keep yourself covered for any damaged or lost medication/equipment, or if you stay longer than originally planned.
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