Does air travel affect diabetes?
Air travel can affect diabetes if you are in the air for long periods without eating carbohydrates. You will run the risk of dropping your blood glucose levels, if not managed carefully. You must take the proper steps to prepare for air travel when you live with diabetes. Thankfully, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a pre-approved screening process for people diagnosed with diabetes. According to TSA, if you are being treated for diabetes, you can call 855-787-2227 prior to traveling with any questions regarding boarding processes, screenings, and procedures.
People diagnosed with diabetes are allowed to bring diabetic-related supplies, equipment, and medications (including liquids) through the security checkpoint and onto the aircraft. Travelers with diabetes should separate these items from their other belongings and let the TSA security officer know about such items before the screening process begins. This will allow for a smoother security checkpoint screening process.
Some food items that are TSA approved for diabetics to bring through the security checkpoint include:
- Glucose tablets
- Hard candy
- Nutritional bars
- Juice (greater than 3.4 ounces)
- Peanut butter crackers
- Glucose gel
Travelers with diabetes should always keep a quick-acting source of glucose to treat low blood sugar on them. It is best to store these items in a carry-on bag. Thinking ahead can prevent common complications associated with traveling.
The standard amount for a gel or liquid is 3.4 ounces. According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes may take their insulin, liquids (including juice), and gels through TSA checkpoints, even if the liquids are greater than 3.4 ounces. The traveler must disclose that he or she is a diabetic. Your healthcare provider can also supply a letter stating that you have diabetes and will be traveling.
Traveling with insulin
Diabetics should always travel with their insulin. Passengers can bring prescription labels for medication and medical devices to make the security process go quickly. However, this is not required, but a good idea if you want to go through the security checkpoint quickly and without hassle. You may consider printing out a TSA disability notification card that discloses health conditions that may affect screening. You can view the TSA disability card here. You could also opt to wear a medical identification bracelet, in case of any emergencies that may arise while traveling.
Passengers should place medications in a separate quart-sized, clear bag that is sealable. Insulin should always be accompanied with you on your carry-on luggage, preferably a purse or briefcase. The carry-on bag should be something you can get to easily and quickly if needed.
Insulin and insulin loaded dispensing medical devices are permitted through security. Again, just be transparent and upfront with the TSA security officer and they will not give you any problems related to your medical devices or medications. Insulin can safely pass through X-ray machines and does not need special treatment. Insulin should not ever be placed in a checked bag since the changes in air pressure and temperature may adversely affect the insulin’s integrity. After travel, make sure to inspect your insulin and notify your health care provider if you notice any changes in the appearance of your insulin. If needed, your healthcare provider can E-scribe or telephone order more insulin at a pharmacy near you.
Traveling with lancets
Make sure you travel with extra medical supplies. You would rather have too many lancets than not enough in this situation. Pip Lancets are good for traveling because they are convenient and disposable. According to TSA, you may bring an unlimited number of unused syringes when accompanied by insulin. Other approved supplies include:
- Lancets (Pip lancets are best)
- Blood glucose meters
- Blood glucose meter test strips
- Alcohol swabs
- Meter testing solutions/calibration solutions
- Glucagon emergency kit
- Urine ketone strips
- Sharps disposable containers
- Continuous blood glucose monitors
Traveling with diabetes may seem like a chore, but with a little planning and forethought, it is a simple process. Remember to bring your Pip Lancets for travel as they will make traveling with diabetes more convenient.