Diabetes mellitus is a condition that requires specific doses of insulin to be administered to the patient at precisely-measured intervals. Because of this, diabetics often avoid travel which would entail a change of time zone. In fact, diabetes need not be an obstacle to enjoying the travel experience.
With the right approach to the condition, together with good preparation, you will be well able to enjoy travelling if you are diabetic, too. These actions include:
Before your trip:
- Discuss the type and number of insulin injections you will need to take with you with your doctor.
- Get your doctor to draw up a precise travel injection timetable for you. This will tell you exactly how much insulin you will need to administer and when.
- Take twice the amount of medication and materials you need (in both your carry-on baggage and your suitcase), to ensure that you will always have enough to hand in the event of an emergency.
- If you are flying west into another time zone, eat an additional meal and administer an additional dose of insulin to cover the extra-long day. You should discuss this, too, with the doctor treating your diabetes before you depart.
- If you are flying east into another time zone, your “day” will be shorter, of course. Here it is advisable to reduce your insulin dosage accordingly. And here, too, you should discuss the matter with your doctor in advance of your trip.
After arriving at your destination:
- Bear in mind that insulin should not be exposed to temperatures of below 2°C or above 40°C.
- After your first night at your destination, it may be advisable to conduct an extra blood sugar check and possibly eat an additional meal with carbohydrates to ensure that your body gets the nutrients it needs.
If you develop diarrhoea or vomiting, you should definitely see a local doctor who can examine your body fluid levels and may be able to adjust your insulin dose. In view of this eventuality, you should always carry the documents a doctor may need to treat you on your person throughout your stay. Also, check with your doctor and your health insurance scheme about your insurance cover abroad.
Patients on dialysis can travel by air. Peritoneal dialysis can be performed shortly before or after the flight (but may not be performed during it). The same applies to passengers using a dialysis machine. As a rule, you may take any dialysis equipment with you. But if you plan to do so, please mention this when making your reservation, to ensure that this equipment (up to a weight of 20 kilos) is not subject to any excess baggage charge.