Traveling With Diabetes
Most of the problems that come when you mix diabetes and travel are related to the use of insulin. Diet-controlled diabetics or those who use oral medications need to be as rigorous in watching their diet when away from home as they are at home. This may mean calling ahead for a diabetic diet and carrying a calorie counter with you. You should keep your watch on home time and eat accordingly en route, but eat your meals and take your medication on the new time schedule as soon as your arrive.
When you take insulin things can become more complicated. When changing time zones, most experts recommend simply taking your usual dose of insulin on the new time schedule as long as you are changing four or fewer time zones. When altering your schedule more than that, there are charts available to help you calculate your new dosage schedule (our clinic can help with this or you may be able to obtain it from your regular physician.) If you are used to checking your own blood sugars with a glucose meter, however, it may be simpler to ignore the charts and just adjust your dosage according to your glucose readings.
Remember that when crossing international boundaries you will need a letter on your physician's letterhead explaining your need for insulin, syringes and the glucose meter.
Transporting insulin is not the problem it used to be now that the new insulins are more temperature stable. Usually they will have a normal potency if maintained at a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit or less. There are kits available, though, to help insure the safety of your insulin. (see our catalog) It is usually recommended that you carry U-100 syringes as they are easier to use and sometimes not available overseas. Also, always carry your diabetic supplies in your carry-on luggage so that it will be available in all instances.
The Diabetic Traveler Newsletter
(Box 8223 RW, Stamford, CT 06905)
International Travel Health Guide
by Stuart R. Rose, M.D.
Contains a chart for calculating
timing & dose of insulin. (see our catalog)