Know Before You Go: Traveling with Diabetes

November 14, 2018

Don't let diabetes be a deterrent when you're planning that perfect getaway. 

"All it takes is a little pre-planning before you go," said Dr. Jason Daily with Mercy Clinic Endocrinology. "Step one is schedule an appointment with your diabetes provider a month or two before you leave. Discuss where you're going, how you're traveling and what you'll be taking."

It's also important to take along a letter that states you're being treated for diabetes, how you're being treated and what supplies you're using.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides several resources in its article "21 Tips for Traveling with Diabetes."

The chances are good you know someone with diabetes. Nearly 30 million people in the United States have some form of diabetes. However, up to a third of these people don’t know they have this potentially deadly disease.

In simple terms, diabetes prevents your body from properly using the food you eat for energy. After you eat, your blood sugar (glucose) rises and triggers your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to unlock your body’s cells and allow sugar to enter. Once the glucose is inside, it is converted into energy in your muscles or stored in fat for later use.

Diabetes occurs when your body does not produce enough insulin or does not properly use the insulin produced – or a combination of both. When you have diabetes, your body cannot move glucose from your blood into the cells, causing hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels).

There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, causing permanent damage. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, and there is no known way to prevent it.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body cannot use insulin efficiently and your pancreas produces more insulin to compensate. Eventually, the pancreas is unable to keep up with demand and stops producing insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age. Most cases can be prevented or delayed with weight loss, a healthy diet and increased activity.
  • Gestational diabetes is caused by insulin blocking hormones produced during pregnancy.

Comprehensive Diabetes Care

Diabetes is a complex disease that can affect other areas of the body, increasing the risk for heart attack, stroke, blindness and other eye problems, kidney disease, neuropathy and chronic wounds. Mercy offers patients with diabetes access to comprehensive care, including:

Diabetes Management Is a Lifelong Responsibility

We are eager to help you take charge of your diabetes. Research shows that people who participate in diabetes training can learn how to effectively manage their diabetes and live full and rewarding lives. Our team will work with you to provide self-management training that meets your needs and incorporates your daily activities, family demands, eating habits, health issues and work schedules. 

Patient Education Resources

We've created tools to help you better undersand and manage your diabetes: