How to Navigate Air Travel if You Have Type 2 Diabetes
International travel? In some countries, insulin is available in U-40 concentrations only.(VEER)
If you're a frequent-flier, you can select glucose meters and medication-delivery systems that are air-travel-friendly.
"People who travel a lot love to be on insulins that can be put in pens because they're very easily transportable," says Richard Hellman, MD, former president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
Frequent travelers also like five-second glucose meters because they're fast, portable, and increasingly accurate, he says.
"We have seen more than a number of patients in whom changing the flexibility improved their control simply because they found they could do what they needed to do without drawing attention to themselves or sacrificing their own control," Dr. Hellman says.
Getting through airport security
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows insulin, syringes, lancets, pumps, and other supplies through airport security. (Find a complete list of airport rules and regulations on the Transportation Security Administration's website.)
Malcolm McCoy, 76, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a young adult, travels to Columbus on occasion to attend meetings of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame and always packs a glucose test meter and a Novolog insulin pen. "I just do it," says the Lima, Ohio resident. "I don't worry about whether it's discreet or not. It's just something that I have to contend with."
Charles Wiggins, 74, of Chicago, also uses insulin to treat his type 2 diabetes. He keeps his medication in his carry-on luggage to make sure it doesn't get lost and brings twice as much as he needs for a trip in case he breaks or drops his insulin syringes or extends his trip. He keeps his glucose monitor in his pocket, and tests four times a day every day.
When traveling, Wiggins usually gets a cup of orange juice on his flight, and always has granola bars with him. He also carries glucose tablets and peppermints or hard candies, in case of hypoglycemia. "Almost like a little kit," he says. "I call it my fail-safe kit, because without it I'm not safe."