Welcome to a new series from Nurse Amanda full of useful health tips for people with diabetes! I’ve been a registered children’s nurse for over 23 years and I’ve had a special interest in diabetes for over 11 years.
To kick off this new series, our first blog post will cover travel. With school out for the summer, you may have a holiday booked. I certainly look forward to the family holiday every year. However, living with diabetes and organising a holiday is not just about what clothes to pack, it’s a whole load more. Diabetes also needs to be planned for during vacations.
- Set an alarm on the Glooko® Mobile App to remind you to order your consumables and GP prescription well in advance.
- Take double the amount of equipment you need and carry it in your hand luggage. If you are travelling with a partner, split the equipment between both bags, just in case one gets lost. Sometimes airlines will permit extra luggage if they are contacted prior to arriving at the airport.
- Always wear some form of diabetes I.D. to alert others to your chronic condition.
- Make sure you have adequate travel insurance and the company has been made aware that you have diabetes.
- You can ask for a customs letter from your health care team to help you through security with your insulin and pen needles.
- Always carry some hypo treatment and be prepared to test your blood glucose more regularly. You could use a Bluetooth enabled blood glucose meter (BGM) to sync your results with Glooko for your care team to support you whilst you are away.
- If you use an insulin pump to manage your diabetes, some companies can provide a holiday pump service, so you can take a spare insulin pump with you. There’s no harm in asking. If this is needed, you can login to your Glooko account and see your latest device settings to programme the spare pump. Don’t forget to take your back up insulin pens as well!
- You can keep an eye on your glucose control through the recently redesigned Glooko® Mobile App.
- Track your food during your holiday with the Glooko Mobile App on your phone so you can see how different foods affect your diabetes.
- You may have a change in your activity levels. You can also track these within the Glooko® Mobile App to review how it affects your glucose control.
You also need to think about what kind of holiday it is. Will it be warm or cold?
TIPS FOR TRAVELLING IN HEAT
Please note, not everyone with diabetes will react the same to weather changes or changes in physical activity. Although some find heat can increase the sensitivity of insulin resulting in hypos, it is not always the case. Experiment how your body responds to heat changes and be fully prepared. You can keep a log of your symptoms in the Notes section of the Glooko app and also log any physical activity.
- Keep your insulin and meter as cool as you can without freezing it so the insulin does not get damaged.
- Store spare insulin in a cold or cool place. Most hotels have a fridge.
- If you are using an insulin pump, consider changing the insulin cartridge more regularly than at home, especially if your blood glucose is rising.
- Keep your pump and insulin out of the sun as much as possible. Consider using an insulin cooler bag.
- Your cannula may not stick as well being in and out of the pool or the suncream formula, so consider some form of extra adhesive.
COLD WEATHER TRAVEL TIPS
- Keep your BGM close to your body as much as possible to keep it warm.
- Add some extra wrapping around your BGM and insulin.
- If you’re sleeping in tents or somewhere cold at night, make sure your BGM is in bed with you next to your body. Be careful not to roll on it and cause damage.
- If the insulin has frozen or does not look clear with specks or lumps in it, throw it away and open a new vial.
Another worry may be if you are travelling across time zones and treating your diabetes with an insulin pump and basal settings. To alleviate anxiety, try these tips.
TIPS FOR TRAVELLING ACROSS TIME ZONES
A time zone change of up to four hours can be managed by adjusting the insulin pump’s clock to the new destination time.
Time zone changes of four hours or more can be managed by adjusting the insulin pump’s clock by four hours before you board the plane. After a couple of days, you can change it to the destination time. On return, use the same method to revert back to your home local time. You can also set reminders in the Glooko app to alert you to change the time.
Remember to check blood glucose levels more frequently whilst doing this and treat any short-term complications accordingly.
I hope you follow my tips for a better diabetes management experience while travelling.
And most of all, enjoy your holiday!
Amanda Stoney, RN (CHILD), BSc (HONS), Specialist Practitioner, PG Certificate