Planning Your Vacation
As summer approaches people begin to think about travel. Vacations should be a time to relax, visit friends and family. Whether you are going across the country or around the world a little pre-trip planning can make for a safe and fun vacation.
It is important to carry a copy of your medical information including a list of medical problems, medications, allergies, previous operations, EKGs, and a copy of your prescriptions. If you have a complicated medical history, make sure you have an English-speaking doctor in the area where you are traveling. Contact your insurance company and find out if there is a plan hospital in the area where you are traveling. Ask about the procedure if an emergency should occur.
When traveling on a plane always keep your medications in your carry-on. Keep all medications in their original labeled containers, this will avoid problems passing through customs. A copy of the original prescription in case medications are lost might make it easier to get a refill. If you need medications while away from home do not buy medications unless you are familiar with them. There are many pills that look alike, many names that sound the same, and many formulations of the same medicines.
Traveling with syringes
Traveling with syringes isn’t recommended, it might give the impression of drug use. You might also have trouble passing through customs in many countries, and they could refuse you entry, or do a prolonged search. Second, if there is an emergency there is no guarantee that the medicines or IV fluids used are sterile. However, some disease states, for example insulin dependent diabetes, require the use of syringes.
Traveling with Diabetes
Having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to stop you from traveling, it just takes planning. Determine how much insulin, syringes, monitor strips, and other supplies you will need for the trip and take an extra weeks worth. Always carry your insulin supplies on the plane, never in checked luggage. Insulin should be stored between 35and 90F degrees. Current insulin preparations can usually be unrefrigerated for up to one month. The insulin pen can remain unrefrigerated for 2 weeks.
The insulin pump is probably the easiest to use while traveling. The basal insulin dose stays the same, and the bolus regular is also given normally. One approach to dosing insulin while traveling by plane is to keep your watch set on home time and to keep the same schedule of insulin and meals. Then, when you arrive at your final destination, switch to local time. You can usually change the time of your insulin by 2 hours without making other adjustments. This approach is generally used for twice daily insulin injections.
Traveling west, the days are longer there will be more meals and you will probably need more insulin. The opposite is true for travel eastbound. Speak to your doctor about an exact method for taking insulin while traveling. Be sure to order a diabetic meal 48 hours before your flight. Always carry food while traveling, the plane and meals can be delayed. Orange juice, dried fruit, crackers, cheese, peanut butter are some examples. Let the flight attendant know you are a diabetic in case of problems.
If You Are Pregnant
Air travel is not recommended after the 36th week of gestation and for travelers with premature labor. During flight, it is important that pregnant women move around to maintain good circulation. In all cases, the risk of vaccination must be weighed against potential benefits.
U.S. airlines are required to make efforts to allow access by disabled persons. Reserve you place early. It is easier to fly on larger airplanes and not commuter planes. Flying non-stop avoids the hassle of transferring planes. Reserve an aisle seat in the front of the plane. If you fly with a companion he or she is allowed to board and sit with you during the flight. A urinal or external catheter are options instead of using the airplane bathrooms. If you are using a scooter the airlines require a gel battery, it is best to check requirements well before traveling.
After a Heart Attack
After a heart attack it is best to wait 6-8 weeks before travel and to stay in well-developed countries. Carry the most recent copy of your EKG, or better yet, store your EKGs in your PersonalMD Emergency file. Make sure activity planed does not exceed your doctor’s recommendations. Pacemakers can activate metal detectors in airports, so is a good idea to have a letter from your physician.
Supplemental oxygen is available on US airlines, but must be ordered in advance. Travelers are not permitted to use their own oxygen tanks in flight. Also there is a charge for using the airline’s oxygen. The airlines require a letter from your doctor stating your requirement for oxygen. Hopefully this information will help you have a better and healthier trip.