by Maureen Sullivan, RN, CDE*
ummer will soon be here, and with it comes
ample opportunity for vacation travel.
Although vacations are ideally a time to rest,
and relax, the truth is that most vacations can also
bring changes in activity, meals and sleep patterns.
For persons with diabetes, these changes can affect
blood sugar levels. Fortunately, a little preplanning
can minimize disruptions in your diabetic regimen,
reducing the risk of diabetic complications.
Be sure and pack all needed medications (tablets,
insulin syringes, glucose meter and lancets). Bring
extra medications- in your carry-on luggage- and
copies of your prescriptions, insurance card and
medical emergency contact information. If at all
possible, find out ahead of time where medical care
is available at your travel destination.
Travel by car
Pack a portable cooler with fresh fruits and
vegetables, as well as bottled water and other
healthy options. Schedule frequent stops, which
allows you to get out and walk around (lowering
your risk of developing blood clots in your legs).
If you are traveling into different time zones, be
aware your meal times and sleep times may be
altered. You may need to check your blood sugar
levels more frequently, until your schedule is
adjusted to the time difference. Eastward travel
means a shorter day. If you inject insulin, less may
be needed. Westward travel means a longer day,
so more insulin may be needed. Check with your
medical provider or diabetic educator for more
information on how best to adjust insulin dosing.
Keep your medications with you (instead
of placing them in your checked in luggage). Pack
healthy snacks to take on the plane with you, to
cover any delay in meals. Finally, if you are wearing
any diabetic monitoring devices (continuous
glucose monitoring devices or insulin pumps),
notify the airlines ahead of time to alert security
officials. You can opt for a manual pat down instead
of going through the security detectors.
Emergency Care when abroad
According to the American Diabetes Association
speaking foreign doctors from the International
Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers
(IAMAT), 1623 Military Road, #279, Niagara Falls, NY
716-754 4883. If an emergency occurs while you're
traveling and you don't have such a list, contact
the American Consulate, American Express, or local
medical schools for a list of doctors".
With planning and preparation, your
vacation can be filled with fun and festivities. Take
control of your diabetes and have a wonderful
summer. Bon Voyage!