Before we get into traveling with diabetes, let’s first look at the different types of the disease and what can be done to treat it. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any time, no matter your age, race, or body type. Diabetes is a long-lasting health issue that affects how your body turns food into energy.
Food is broken down into sugar in your blood, and when your sugar level rises, your pancreas releases insulin which helps your body’s cells to use the sugar as energy. If you have diabetes, your body does not produce enough insulin or does not use what you do have well. Over time, this can lead to serious health issues such as heart and kidney disease and loss of vision.
Lose weight and eat healthy
Losing weight and eating healthy can all help, but if you have already been diagnosed, you need to learn how to take the medication when needed. Type 2 diabetes is the common form of the disease and occurs most when your body does not correctly use the insulin your pancreas produces. While some people can control type 2 diabetes with exercise and healthy eating, others need to take medicine or insulin to help control it.
Flying with diabetes requires careful planning. Photo: Pixabay
Despite both type 1 and type 2 diabetes having similar symptoms, the cause of each type is different. Some adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes may have symptoms similar to type 2, which can make knowing which type you have confusing. Common symptoms of diabetes are:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss—even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
Traveling with diabetes
While traveling or going on vacation may give you a little more to think about if you have diabetes. It should not stop you. However, it does mean that you will need to plan well and have a few more things to think about before you embark on your trip, especially if you are traveling overseas.
The first thing you need to consider seriously is travel insurance that covers you for a medical emergency. Make sure the insurance covers you for pre-existing conditions like diabetes when taking out cover.
Be sure to pack enough medication for your trip with some extra if something happens, or you are away from home longer than expected. Make sure and have your diabetes ID on your body and your medication in your hand luggage. Also, pack extra snacks and high glucose drinks in your carry-on as this will help if you suffer delays.
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Prepare for your trip well in advance
Because of the heightened security at these airports days, it is essential to be well-prepared before traveling. Even though there is a 100ml restriction on liquids and sharp objects, there are exceptions for people with medical conditions like diabetes. First and foremost, you will need to have a letter from your doctor that you can show to airline staff and airport security. If you encounter any problems, ask to speak to a manager or senior staff member.
Be prepared and organized before travel. Photo: Getty Images
If you use a pump or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), make sure you tell the airline this when you are booking your ticket. Pumps and CGMs that operate wirelessly can interfere with the navigation and communication of the plane. Because of this, you may need to be prepared to use an insulin pen while onboard the aircraft. You may also need to test your glucose level manually with a standard glucose meter.
If you use an insulin pump or a CGM, you shouldn’t put them through x-ray machines or body scanners as they may cause your devices not to work correctly. Again as we mentioned early, the key to traveling with diabetes is preparation. If you are well-prepared, you should have no problems.
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