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Traveling With Diabetes

If you have diabetes, traveling requires extra planning. Changes in meal patterns, activity levels, and time zones can affect your blood sugar levels. A little extra effort in advance can make your trip go smoother.

Before Your Trip

  • Tell your doctor about your plans. Ask for a letter explaining that you have diabetes and some extra prescriptions. Carry this with you at all times during your travel.
  • Ask your doctor about adjusting insulin doses if you're crossing time zones.
  • Get twice as many supplies as you think you'll need. If you need immunizations, plan to get them 3 to 4 weeks before your vacation. Be aware that some shots can affect your blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor first.
  • Be prepared. Scope out health care centers where you're going.
  • Talk to the airline, hotel, or cruise ship about special meals.
  • Learn certain phrases in the local language such as "I need help" or "I have diabetes," "Where is the hospital," and "I need sugar."

What Should You Take?

  • A piece of paper or card with your doctor's name and phone number. Keep it with you at all times.
  • A list of current medicines. Keep it with you at all times.
  • Medical identification that says you have diabetes.
  • Medicines, syringes, inhaler and cartridges, blood sugar testing supplies, and all oral medications. Keep them in your carry-on luggage. Don't risk a checked bag getting lost or sitting in an unheated, uncooled cargo hold.
  • Enough medicines and medical supplies to last an extra week.
  • A traveling companion to carry some of your medical supplies, if possible.
  • Some type of sugar source in case you develop low blood sugar.

Getting Through the Airport

Tell security that you have diabetes and have medical supplies with you. You can take them through security checkpoints, but they must have a prescription label and a proper manufacturer's label.

Syringes will be allowed through security if you have insulin, too.

Notify security if you're wearing an insulin pump. They will inspect the meter -- you must ask them not to remove it.

Check the Transportation Security Administration web site for the latest list of what you can bring with you.

Taking Insulin While Traveling

If you need an insulin injection during a flight, follow your normal procedure, but put only half as much air into your insulin bottle as usual. Air pressure on the plane is not the same as on the ground.

If you take inhaled insulin on a plane, you don't need to do anything different.

Store your insulin bottles and unopened packages of inhaled insulin between 33 F and 80 F. Don't freeze insulin or keep it in direct sun. Once you open a package of inhaled insulin, you can keep it at room temperature safely for 10 days.

WebMD Medical Reference

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Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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