With school out, the mid-summer months are the most common time for many American families to enjoy planned vacation time, but for those with specific health needs like diabetes, travel is risky. Pam Howard, diabetes nurse educator at Norwalk Hospital, says planning ahead before travel is crucial to managing diabetes while on vacation.
"With diabetes you're trying to manage food, exercise, and medication. It's unpredictable when you're going to get at food. Carrying extra snacks, being prepared if your blood sugars were dropping down too low that you have some immediate, fast acting carbohydrate and then you have a snack to kind of take you through just in case your plans are much more delayed."
Studies estimate about 29.1 million people in the United States are living with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes. The CDC reports as of 2014 over 250,000 people in Connecticut suffer from the disease.
"Double, or triple the supplies that you're going to need for the time that you're gone, whether it's insulin or medications. If you're on an insulin pump, you need all of the insulin pump supplies, if you're doing blood glucose monitoring, you need all of the blood glucose supplies, the censors and including things like batteries."
Howard says to avoid blood clots, stand up and stretch your legs while traveling in an airplane, bus, train or car. She also says carry supplies and emergency contacts on-hand at all times and avoid exposing medical devices to extreme temperatures.
"Some of the things that make people get thrown off is, their schedule gets thrown off, you might be eating more than usual, different types of foods, so research a little about what your options might be, even looking at some of the restaurants so you already have a plan in mind, so you're just enjoying the experience, not stressing about how your diabetes is going to be impacted."
She also says to let airport security know of you have diabetes ahead of time.
"If you put all of your supplies in the same place for the diabetes so that you can pull them out and they can look at it, they can do a visual inspection and if you're concerned at all about going through the x-ray part of it, just let them know ahead of time and there's options that they will provide for you."
For more information on diabetes services contact members of Norwalk Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Self-Management Education Program at (203) 852-2181.