When you take ;ight, you may
have to modify your diabetes
regimen. Be sure to focus on
these key steps.
ADJUST FOR AIR PRESSURE.
Changes in air pressure can cause your pump
to deliver more or less insulin. When air
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
pressure decreases during takeoff, bubbles
When you plan a trip, you’re mostly
can form in an insulin cartridge, displacing
thinking about the fun adventures ahead.
insulin in the pump and pushing out more
But when you have diabetes, you’ll need to
than your dose. During landing, air pressure
prepare for worst-case scenarios, too.
increases, which sucks insulin back into
the pump and leads to less insulin being
INSURE TRAVEL. Sowards
delivered to your body, according to one
recommends buying travel insurance to cover
study. This may not be an issue for most
emergency room visits, evacuation costs, and
people, but “some patients are very sensitive
more. Medicare does not cover medical costs
to little changes in the dosage of insulin,”
outside of the United States, except in certain
says Hamaty. If you have concerns, talk with
circumstances. Not on Medicare? Check with
your doctor about suspending your pump for
your private insurer to see if international
a few minutes during takeoff and landing.
coverage is offered, she says.
Pressure changes can affect vial and
syringe users, too. If you need to draw insulin
ASK FOR HELP. Remember to program
into a syringe while in ;ight, be careful not
your phone with the number of the U.S. embassy
to inject air into the vial, says Sowards.
in your destination city, so it’s handy in the event
Changes in air pressure can make it dif;cult
you have a medical issue. “They can give you a
to measure your insulin dose accurately.
referral for the best place to go for medical care,”
Sowards says. U.S. embassies do not provide
TIME MEALTIME DOSES.
translation services but may provide a list of
You can never be too sure whether you’ll
of;cial translators to contact.
be served an in-;ight meal, which makes
mealtime medication doses tricky. Packed
USE BACKUPS. Purchasing new devices
snacks, or a small meal, help you avoid lows
in a pinch can pose its own set of problems,
when you’ve already taken sulfonylureas,
which is why it’s smart to bring backups. If you
meglitinides, or insulin, says Hamaty.
lose your meter, it may be dif;cult to obtain
To avoid situations like that, wait to take
a new device that measures blood glucose in
your medication or insulin until you get
milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) and works
the meal. Otherwise, you could go too low
with your test strips. Instead, many countries
before the food gets to you. Another option:
measure in millimoles per liter (mmol), which
For doses in the air, take your medication
can make it challenging to get a quick reading.
after the meal.
You can multiply the reading in millimoles by
18 to get the equivalent of mg/dl, says Hamaty,
but it’s easier to bring extra devices from home.