Packing for Traveling with Diabetes

Packing Your Pump: Traveling with Diabetes

Traveling is already stressful. When you add in you or your family’s diabetes, it just gets worse. But, like all vacation planning, good prep is key to making sure traveling with diabetes goes smoothly.

Preparation for Traveling with Diabetes

It’s best to travel when your diabetes is under control, so schedule a check up with your doctor before your trip if you need to.

Make sure you have enough of current prescriptions to take while traveling. With some things, you can stock up in advance. For others, you may have to take your prescription with you and get it filled on the road. Make sure you also know which pharmacies your plan covers before getting a prescription filled there.

Keep a document that lists all of the medicines and supplies you’re traveling with. Not only can it help you pack before leaving home or the hotel, but you can also show it to security agents at airports to help them check your supplies quickly.

Call or check out your insulin pump company’s website before you fly. Not all pumps can go through the X-ray machines safely, so it’s important to check for yours. If your pump can’t go through, let one of the TSA agents know and ask for a pat down check instead.

Packing for Traveling with Diabetes

According to the TSA, most diabetes supplies, including insulin, pumps, unused syringes, lancets, and blood glucose meters are allowed in your carry-on.

It’s important that you pack supplies and snacks in your carry-on so that you can monitor your diabetes during the flight without problems.

Keep medications in their original containers, and keep them in a separate, clear plastic bag. This makes it easy for security to check what kind of meds you have and that they’re yours.

Use your list to make sure you’ve packed everything you need to take care of your diabetes.

If your kids are traveling without you, it’s important to both help them pack their supplies, and to make sure they have their emergency plan and important numbers, like your phone number and their blood sugar levels, handy when traveling.

At the Airport

Once you’re at the airport, the key to a smooth flight is communication.

Make sure you tell the security officers you are traveling with diabetes supplies and meds and if you need a pat down or your bag checked by hand to protect your pump.

Use a phone, an app, or a watch that can stay on your home time zone, so you can keep track of when you should be eating and taking medicine on your normal schedule. It’s easy to get distracted on vacation, so alarms are also an easy way to remind yourself at the right time.

Once you’re on your flight, if you feel sick and need food, a drink, or to get your carry-on quickly, it can help if you let your flight attendant know what’s happening. They can help you better and faster if they know it’s important for your diabetes.

Always make sure you’re wearing your shoes after you go through security and on your flight. Never go barefoot to protect your feet.

After Arriving

Once you’ve made it to your hotel, it’s a good idea to make sure your supplies are still organized after the flight.

Make sure you’re still keeping track of meals, meds, and your levels like you would at home. Try to plan activities so you’ll have plenty of time to go back to your room to check your levels or take meds, or be ready to bring things with you.

And of course, watch what you eat. Vacation is a good time to enjoy yourself, but still keep a good count of your carbs.

With a little extra planning, diabetes won’t be able to stand in your way of an amazing trip!

Treating Diabetes with Glucose Checks

Treating Diabetes

There isn’t a cure for diabetes, but it is very treatable. Treating diabetes depends on which type of diabetes you have.

Type 1 Diabetes

Because those with type 1 diabetes can’t produce enough of their own insulin, they must treat their diabetes with insulin injections.

Type 2 Diabetes

For many, treatment for type 2 diabetes focuses on diet and exercise. If blood sugar levels stay high, oral medications can help your body better produce insulin.

In some cases, insulin injections are used.

For those who who are at risk of TOFI type 2 diabetes, it’s important to:

  • Exercise, which is the only way to shed fat on the abdominal organs.
  • Lower stress, which can temporarily raise your blood sugar.
  • Diet smart by avoiding “diet foods” that are actually loaded with sugar, like low-fat salad dressings and vitamin drinks.

Gestational Diabetes

Treatment for gestational diabetes needs to happen quickly to protect you and your baby.

Treatment tries to keep your blood sugar levels at the same levels as healthy pregnant women’s through a combination of these:

  • Specialized meal plans
  • Regular, scheduled physical activity
  • Daily blood sugar testing
  • Insulin injections

It’s important to work with your doctor to make a treatment plan in all cases, but especially with gestational diabetes where personal changes are important for protecting your baby.

Testing

The A1c test measures your average blood sugar level over 2-3 months. Your doctor will generally order it every 3-6 months depending on which type of diabetes you have to keep an eye on how your treatment is working.

For most adults, the American Diabetes Association’s suggests your A1c be under 7%, but your doctor will help you decide what’s best for you. Studies show that people with diabetes keep normal A1c levels live five years longer, on average.

Checking your blood sugar with your personal meter helps you manage your treatment on a day-to-day basis. It gives you info right away to help you make decisions about taking your insulin, when to exercise, and tell you if you’re on track.

Keeping normal blood sugar levels reduces the risk of high cholesterol, and controlling your cholesterol can lower heart complications by 50%.

These two tests work together to tell you how your diabetes management is going. This chart shows what an A1c level translates to in blood sugar levels:

A1c Average Blood Sugar (mg/dl)

6% 126

7% 154

8% 183

9% 212

10%    240

11%    269

12%    298

Insulin Injections

The biggest challenge to people who are treating diabetes with insulin injections is balancing exactly how much insulin you need to take, which can vary based on:

  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Stress
  • Current emotions
  • General health

Not balancing these factors and your insulin can result in hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

Hypoglycemia is when you eat too little food, take too much insulin or diabetes meds, or get extra exercise, which causes your blood sugar levels to be too low.

Hyperglycemia is when you eat too much food, don’t take enough insulin, or are stressed or sick, and then your blood sugar levels are too high.

The best way to know if your blood sugar is high or low is to test your levels. But it’s also good to know the warning signs:

Hypoglycemia

  • Shaky
  • Dizzy
  • Nervous
  • Sweaty
  • Hungry
  • Clumsy
  • Confused
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Tingling mouth
  • Headache
  • Pale face
  • Seizure
  • Passing out

Hyperglycemia

  • Going to the bathroom a lot
  • Thirsty
  • Tired
  • Weak
  • Blurry vision
  • Hungry, even when you’ve eaten.

When your blood sugar level is too low, you can:

  • Eat or drink something with 15 grams of carbs:
    • Try three glucose tablets, 4 ounces of apple or orange juice, 4 ounces regular soda, 1 tablespoon cake frosting or three Jolly Ranchers.
    • Wait 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose level again.
    • If your blood glucose is still too low, eat another 15 grams of carbs. Wait another 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose again. You may want to keep eating until you feel better, but it’s very important to wait the full 15 minutes.

If you or your care team feel your signs are serious, inject glucagon which is the opposite of insulin—it raises your blood glucose level.

If your blood sugar is high, it’s important to remember that one high blood sugar reading isn’t a big deal, it happens to everyone from time to time. But if you keep running high day after day, talk to your doctor.

No matter what, it’s important to talk to your doctor and care team about the best way to manage your diabetes and how to handle these situations.

Signs of a Stroke

Do You Know the Signs of a Stroke?

About 700,000 Americans will have a new or recurring stroke this year, and more than 158,000 of them will die. Stroke is the third highest cause of death among Americans and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.

About Strokes

There are different kinds of strokes:

Ischemic Stroke
A blockage within a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. These account for 87% of all stroke cases.
Hemorrhagic Stroke
When a weakened blood vessel ruptures, like an aneurism. The most common cause is uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
Often called a mini stroke, these are caused by a temporary clot. But these warning strokes should be taken very seriously.

 

Strokes can cause:

  • Paralysis on the left or right side of the body, depending on the side of the brain the stroke is on
  • Vision problems
  • Quick, inquisitive behavioral style or slow, cautious behavioral style, depending on the side of the brain the stroke is on
  • Memory loss
  • Speech or language problems

Signs & Symptoms of Stroke

The early signs and symptoms of stroke are very similar to the long-term effects. These can include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking or loss of balance

What Happens After a Stroke

Once you’re taken to a hospital, a doctor will try to gather info to make a diagnosis. They will:

  • Go over what’s happened already
  • Get your medical history
  • Do a physical and neurological exam
  • Get certain blood tests done
  • Get a CT or MRI scan
  • Study the results of other tests that might be needed
  • Work with you on immediate and long-term treatment

Preventing Strokes

The good news is that 80% of all strokes can be prevented by managing key risk factors, including high blood pressure, smoking, and physical inactivity. More than half of all strokes are caused by high blood pressure.

Learn more about high blood pressure, its generic drug options, or preventing strokes.

Remember, if you or someone you are with experiences stroke symptoms, it is very important to get medical attention immediately. If given within the first 3 hours of symptoms, a clot busting drug can reduce long term disability for the most common type of stroke.

Schedule Your Doctor's Appointment

Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Scheduling Your Doctor’s Appointment

Prevention is important to maintaining good health, so it is important to know what you need each year at your doctor’s appointment.

Blood Pressure

This should happen at every doctor’s appointment, even if you don’t currently have high blood pressure, to track your levels over time.

Flu Shot

This yearly shot protects you and those you care about from the flu.

Yearly Blood Tests

You should get these blood tests at your yearly physical doctor’s appointment:

Microalbumin

This yearly test can detect early signs of kidney damage.

Dental Exam

You should set up this kind of doctor’s appointment with your dentist every 6 months for a regular cleaning.

Dilated Eye Exam

This yearly doctor’s appointment is when your eye doctor puts eye drops into your pupil so they can get a better view of the back of your eye.

Pneumococcal Shot

This one-time shot prevents blood, brain, and lung infections, like pneumonia, caused by a certain bacteria.

HbA1c

Those with diabetes should have this test at doctor’s appointments 2 to 4 times a year to help track their blood sugar levels long-term.

Foot Exam

This should happen at every doctor’s appointment for those with diabetes.

At Your Doctor’s Appointment

Ask for help.

Never be afraid to ask your doctor for advice. They want to help you be your best!

  • Prepare – Organize your questions ahead of time, and feel free to write them down if you’re afraid of forgetting anything.
  • Be Specific – Detailed information can help your doctor make your treatment plan and make sure it is working for you.
  • Tell the Truth – Be honest and direct with your doctor. Sharing information about how you feel will help you stay healthy.

Ask questions.

Not sure what to ask at your doctor’s appointment? Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What’s my blood pressure, cholesterol, and health goals?
  • How frequently should I check my blood pressure?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol? Should I start a healthy diet or exercise plan?
  • What are the common side effects of my meds? Will any of my other meds, supplements, or foods interact with any of my meds?

Stay calm.

Do you get nervous or anxious when you go to doctor’s appointments? You’re not alone, and it can actually cause your blood pressure to rise while you’re there. Research shows that about 20% of patients with mild cases of high blood pressure see their blood pressure rise at doctor’s appointments. This is sometimes called white-coat syndrome.

Track your blood pressure at home and compare readings with those taken in the office to see if this is happening to you. Take these readings with you to your next doctor’s appointment and talk to them about it to make sure they get an accurate account of your blood pressure.

And once they know, your doctor can also help calm your fears, like by explaining exactly what they’re doing as they go.

Learn About Tobacco and High Blood Pressure

Tobacco and Your Heart

Tobacco and High Blood Pressure

When you think about the damage tobacco does, you worry about your lungs and mouth. But when you combine tobacco and high blood pressure, it can be hurting you in more ways than you know.

There’s a common belief that chewing tobacco isn’t as bad for you as smoking is, but it can also cause serious health problems. Smokeless tobacco increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Some evidence suggests these products may put you at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Chewing tobacco will still get you hooked on nicotine, the same way cigarettes do. Once you’re addicted, it becomes difficult to stop. Just like with smoking, withdrawals cause intense cravings, make you hungrier, and make you more irritable and depressed.

But the stimulants in all forms of tobacco can have this effect on your blood pressure. The best thing you can do for your heart is quit tobacco completely.

Help Quitting

The first step to quitting is really wanting to quit. These tips can help you get started:

  • Make a list of your reasons for quitting.
  • Set a quit date.
  • List what might stop you from staying tobacco-free. Do you smoke when you’re stressed, hungry, or when you go out with friends?
  • Plan ways to fight it in those moments.
  • Ask family, friends, and your doctor for help.

Our members can also use our Quit For Life program for help . This program helps you break tobacco’s mental and physical hold. You’ll get:

  • One-on-one coaching from a quit coach
  • A quit plan made just for you
  • Helpful tools, like Text2Quit
  • Web Coach®, an online learning and support community

It’s never too late to quit. For more information, visit QuitNow.net or call 1-866-QUIT-4-LIFE (1-866-784-8454).

Managing Allergies with Tech

Managing Allergies & Asthma with Technology

Tracking the weather and your allergies can be an important part of managing allergies and asthma. Avoid living in a bubble with these helpful phone apps that make staying in touch with Mother Nature easy and fun.

Managing Allergies with Apps

WebMD Allergy

This allergy app is like having a meteorologist in your pocket. It gives you daily weather and pollen forecasts, tells you what allergens are in the air, and can even notify you when allergens reach a certain level. This free app is only for iPhones.

Allergy Alert

Not only can you check your local forecast and your area’s pollen levels, you can also track your symptoms over time to see how they change. Then you can get tips for managing your allergies. This app is free for Android and Apple users.

Managing Allergies & Asthma with Apps

RxmindMe Prescription

Life is busy. With a crazy day-to-day schedule, how in the world can you keep track of all your meds? RxmindMe offers friendly reminders of what meds to take, and you can even snap pictures of your pills to prevent mix-ups. It also lets you create reminders for weekly appointments and refills, so you never miss your doctor or a dose again. This free app is only for iPhones.

Back-to-School with Diabetes

Back-to-School with Diabetes

Back-to-school time always comes on so fast. Take the time now to make sure your kids know what to do in these situations as they head back-to-school with diabetes.

Things to Know Going Back-to-School with Diabetes

  • Who they can go to for help at school.
  • What they might need to get help with.
  • When they will eat, test their blood sugar levels, and take insulin.
  • Where to keep their supplies, test their levels, or take their insulin.
  • How they can check their levels themselves if this is something they are old enough to do.
  • Do they have an idea what’s on their Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP), their 504 Plan, or Individualized Education Plan (IEP). These help the school know what they need and keep them safe and having fun all year long, but it’s also good that they know what the school might ask of them.
  • And, remember to send snacks for when their blood glucose is low.

Visit Diabetes.org for even more great advice for helping your kids at school and more.

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