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Navigating the Skies: A Comprehensive Guide to Air Travel with Diabetes

by IBD Medical on January 23, 2024

Air travel, while exciting, can pose unique challenges for individuals managing diabetes. From meticulous preparation to smoothly navigating security checks, and managing blood sugar levels during the flight, here's a comprehensive guide to ensure a seamless journey for individuals with diabetes.

1. Preparation Is Key: Before embarking on your flight, meticulous preparation can make all the difference:

 

  • Medical Documentation: Carry a letter from your healthcare provider detailing your diabetes management plan, including a list of medications and necessary supplies.
  • Medication and Supplies: Pack more than enough insulin (double), medications, test strips, and other supplies in your carry-on bag, considering potential delays or lost luggage. Depending on your location (humid or water play) pack extra over patches (such as the Glucology CGM patches) to keep your diabetes gadgets in place without fear of losing them.   
  • Snacks and Hydration: Bring healthy snacks and stay well-hydrated to manage blood sugar levels during the flight.


2. Security Checks: Navigating security checks can be efficient with a few strategic steps:

 

  • Inform Security Personnel: Notify security officers about your medical condition and the presence of diabetes-related supplies.
  • Separate Medications: Place medications and diabetes supplies in a separate, easily accessible bag for quick inspection.
  • Request a Pat-Down: If you are uncomfortable with the X-ray machine, request a manual pat-down instead. If you feel uncomfortable getting a pat-down in front of the crowd you can ask for a private room to do so. 


3. During the Flight: Managing diabetes during the flight requires careful planning and continuous monitoring:

 

  • Stay Hydrated: Airplane cabins can be dehydrating, so drink water regularly to prevent dehydration.
  • Monitor Blood Sugar Levels: Check your blood sugar levels more frequently, especially if your routine is disrupted by time zone changes.
  • Move Around: Combat the effects of sitting for long periods by stretching your legs and moving around the cabin when possible.
  • Meal Planning: Coordinate your mealtimes with your usual schedule, especially if you're crossing time zones.
  • Keep your: glucometer and hypoglycemia treatments (gluco chews) in the seat pocket in front of you or under your seat for east, fast access in case of an emergency.


4. Upon Landing to a New Destination: Transitioning to a new destination involves adjusting to different time zones and potential changes in routine:

 

  • Time Zone Adjustments: Gradually shift your meal and medication times to align with the local time zone.  Don’t forget to reset your clocks in your glucometer,  insulin pump and/or CGMs. 
  • Explore Local Cuisine Mindfully: While embracing local cuisine, be mindful of carbohydrate content and how it may impact blood sugar levels.
  • Stay Active: Incorporate light physical activity into your itinerary to support overall well-being.


With careful preparation and a proactive approach, individuals with diabetes can confidently embark on air travel adventures. From meticulous planning and navigating security checks to managing blood sugar levels during the flight and adjusting to a new destination, a thoughtful strategy ensures a smooth and enjoyable journey. Remember to consult with healthcare professionals for personalised advice tailored to your specific needs, making each flight a successful chapter in your travel experiences. Safe travels!

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Diabetes and flights | Glucology Type 1 & 2 diabetes blog
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The content of this Website or Blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website or Blog.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 (in the US) or 000 (in Australia) immediately, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room/urgent care.
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