Diabetic Storage Accessories
When traveling – especially by plane – you want to keep your diabetic storage accessories as close to you as Billy kept his hash in Midnight Express. Otherwise you might end up in as bad a shape as John Hurt in said movie. This is an instance in which you are going to want to overpack. For example, figure out how much insulin and blood-testing supplies you think you’ll need during a particular trip, multiply it by double, and then bring the resulting amount with you. Less is not more in this situation; au contraire, the more the better. Fortunately, you won’t have any trouble bringing as many supplies as you need or want through customs – at least on the American side.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows diabetes-related supplies, equipment and medications – including liquids – to go through the checkpoint once they have been screened by X-ray or hand inspection. TSA “does not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, but states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply.” Moreover, having prescriptions at the ready may speed up the screening process, as does declaring these accessories and keeping them separate from the rest of your luggage – preferably in your carry-on bag as opposed to checked baggage which can get lost.
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The following items are allowed through security:
· Insulin and loaded dispensing products such as vials or box of individual vials, jet injectors, biojectors, epipens, infusers and preloaded syringes.
· Unlimited unused syringes as long as they are accompanied by insulin or any other injectable medication.
· Lancets, glucose meters, test strips, alcohol swabs, testing solution.
· Insulin pumps and related supplies accompanied by insulin.
· Glucagon emergency kit.
· Urine ketone test strips.
· Unlimited used syringes transported in sharps disposal containers.
· Liquids or gels.
· Glucose monitors.
· Any and all medications, equipment and supplies necessary for the management of diabetes.
Diabetic passengers can bring insulin and other liquid and gels they need for their condition even if it exceeds the TSA limit of 3.4oz for most liquids and gels. However, all liquids in containers over 3.4oz must be removed from carry-on luggage and declared, but not placed in the quart-sized zip-top bag used for non-medical liquids. On the other hand, you may consider alternative forms of carbohydrates (glucose tablets, hard candy, raisins) in lieu of liquids or gel for hypoglycemia. In addition to getting lost, insulin may be affected by changes in pressure and temperature if kept in checked baggage. Conversely, X-rays should not affect insulin, but you may request hand inspection instead, just to be on the safe side.
According to the FDA, all three U.S. manufacturers of insulin recommend that insulin be stored in a refrigerator at approximately 36°F to 46°F. Unopened and stored just so, it may remain potent until its expiration date. Additionally, insulin may last for about a month at room temperature. Luckily, there are diabetic storage accessories such as the Medport Diabetic Organizer with Ice Pack, which includes a cool side with a refreezable ice pack and temperature strip that can hold up to four insulin bottles. Other aspects of traveling with insulin aren’t so flexible, though.
For instance, insulin in the U.S. is of the strength U-100; in a different country it might be U-40, or U-80. Hence the importance of bringing more than enough insulin, as stated above. If you have no choice but use a different type of insulin, you may have to purchase new syringes as well that match the insulin in order to avoid under or overdosing. Even with the right insulin and syringes, dosing may be confusing if you’re crossing time zones. Your doctor can help you plan the timing of injections, as well as give you a medical exam, and a letter and a prescription. This documentation is as necessary as a medical ID – e.g. a diabetes identity card, bracelet, or necklace.
Further general recommendations include:
· Arriving at the airport 2 or 3 hours before the flight.
· Reviewing the TSA website for travel updates.
· Keeping fast-acting source of glucose such as nutrition bars, crackers or cheese, peanut butter, fruit, a juice box, and some form of sugar – hard candy or glucose tablets – with you at all times in a well wrapped, air-tight pack..
· Packing extra supplies of all oral medications as well as other medications or supplies, including glucagon, antidiarrhea medication, antibiotic ointment, and antinausea drugs.
· Ordering a special low-sugar, low-fat, low-cholesterol in-flight meal at least two days prior to the flight.