MEDICATION FOR DIABETES
Diabetes is usually controlled with medication and depending on the severity of your condition you may need to take additional preventative medication, to control cholesterol for example. All medications, including insulin, will need to be declared to the travel insurer if they use a medication-led risk rating tool.
Depending on the country you are travelling to, you may need to have vaccinations or anti-malaria tablets before you travel. Some vaccinations and medications can affect your blood glucose levels therefore it is important to check with your GP beforehand as there may be an alternative vaccination or medication you can have.
CAN I TRAVEL WITH INSULIN?
Insulin should be kept cold at all times which may be difficult when travelling however, there are insulin ‘cool bags’ available which are specifically designed for diabetic medication. The cool bag will keep the medication cold enough until you can store it in your hotel fridge – it is also handy to pop in your bag if you are heading out for the day.
To ensure you are well equipped always take twice the amount of insulin you would usually need – just in case you are delayed or need to use more than expected. It is also a good idea to check the supplies in the country you are planning to travel to, some types of insulin may not be easily accessible abroad.
Insulin should always be carried in your hand luggage so it doesn’t spoil in your case. If you are travelling in a group we recommend you split your insulin between everyone’s hand luggage, that way if one bag goes missing you will have enough to get you by until you are able to get a replacement.
Always carry a copy of your prescription and doctors note stating the reason for carrying insulin in case you are stopped at security. Also, if you use an insulin pump it is worth contacting the airline first to ensure you are able to carry it on the plane – as an insulin pump cannot be passed through the x-ray machine some airlines may not allow you to travel with it for security reasons.
Monitoring Glucose Levels
Once you have chosen your destination it is worth speaking to your GP to discuss how to alter your medication safely so you are not caught out abroad.
Taking extra care when monitoring glucose levels abroad is essential. High altitudes and heat can increase the rate in which your body absorbs your medication and therefore you may find yourself taking false readings.
Long haul flights are not only exhausting but they can also affect the timings of when you need to take your medication – particularly if you are changing time zones. When on the plane, you will be able to ask for extra carbohydrates such as crackers and bread rolls as well as your in-flight meal to help you keep your glucose levels under control.