Diabetes is a lifelong illness and requires close monitoring and regular treatment. There are nearly 30 million diabetics in the US; some of them use insulin to control their diabetes, and others use a combination of antidiabetic drugs and insulin to lower the blood sugars. Also, all people with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugars regularly and require supplies like a needle, syringe, blood glucose monitor, strips, and lancet.
When it comes to travel, people who have diabetes need to be well prepared as they can face many challenges. First and foremost, diabetic patients should always see their healthcare provider and ensure that they are fit to travel. Second, they should get a prescription for their medications, syringes, and needles. Finally, diabetic patients should get a letter from their doctor certifying that they have diabetes and will be traveling with the named supplies. Without this letter, the TSA often gives people with diabetes a difficult time. There have been many reports where TSA agents have seized diabetic supplies like needles and syringes because they believed the individual was using illicit drugs.
It is also important to know that patients with diabetes are always at risk for developing hypoglycemia. That is why a large majority of diabetics carry some orange juice. Because TSA has rigid rules on carrying liquids, it is important for you to have the doctor state in the letter why you are carrying the orange juice and how much you may require in case of an emergency.
When you pack your diabetic supplies, it is important not to pack them all in the luggage. Always carry a few supplies as part of your carry-on baggage. There have been cases of in-flight crisis for diabetic patients because they didn’t bring their diabetic supplies on board. At a minimum, patients with diabetes should carry some orange juice, a needle, syringe, and insulin and blood glucose meter with the strips. With flight delays and cancellations, you never know when you may need the supplies. With airlines now refusing to serve beverages, you can get in serious problems if your blood sugar runs low and you have no sweetened drink.
It is also important to know something about your destination. While most cities and towns in North America have pharmacies and doctors available, this isn’t true if you travel outside of North America. Plus, in some tourist resorts in South and Central America, you may not have access to a pharmacy or any diabetic supplies. Therefore, always research the place you’re traveling to and find out if there are any pharmacies and/or doctors nearby in case you need them.
Finally, if you have diabetes, always buy travel insurance and make sure it covers your diabetes-related costs.