insulin pumps

Going out on holidays with a pump

You can have a great time during your holidays while wearing your insulin pump.

Traveling with an insulin pump presents a few challenges, but if you plan ahead and prepare, you should have no problems:

•  Bring enough equipment for your pump. Estimate how much equipment you'll need for your pump, and then double everything such as your supply of batteries.

Pack syringes or insulin pens in case you experience pump failure and an emergency plan how to switch to MDI therapy. Reset the clock on your pump when you reach your new location if there is a change zones.

•  When out in the sun with a pump connected, insulin may crystallize in the tubing because of the intense heat. To remedy this, try giving yourself a bolus of the insulin and disconnect the pump for and hour or two. Once the pump is disconnected, place it in a cooler but not directly on ice.

You can reconnect and take another bolus of insulin, then disconnect again for a few hours. Frequent monitoring of your blood sugar will let you know when you need to administer more insulin.

•  You may also want to disconnect if you will be playing sports. Most swimmers report no problems with the security of their insertion site after being in the water. You may need to make adjustments in your insulin if there is a big change in your activity level from your usual activities at home. Even staying up later than usual will burn up more glucose.

•  For girls who want to leave their pump on while wearing a bathing suit, they simply place the pump in their bra top. Note, however; that when the insulin is kept close, to the body, it is exposed to higher-than-normal temperatures, and its potency may be affected.

•  If you are flying to your destination, contact the airline about its guidelines for travelers carrying diabetes supplies. Pack these items in a carry-on bag, not checked luggage, so that they are available at all times. (The luggage storage section of the plane is not temperature-controlled, so your insulin could freeze).

•  Other general travel tips include packing medications for typical travel illnesses such as motion sickness, diarrhea, nausea, or headaches. This is a good time to purchase some type of medical alert jewelry, if you aren't already wearing it. Pack snacks to carry with you in case of travel delays, as most airlines no longer serve meals. (Call the airline ahead if time to verify this). Carry a safe sharps disposal container if you don’t find it a small shampoo bottle work. well: The container should be opaque and puncture proof, with a secure lid. Lancets, needles, and syringes must be disposed of properly.

•  Some pumpers have chosen to switch temporarily to a long acting insulin, such as Lantus, and use a fast-acting insulin pen containing Novolog or Humalog while on vacation. This eliminates the need far wearing the pump and protecting the insertion site. If you choose this method, be sure to try it out ahead of time so that you can adjust your doses while still at home. Talk with you diabetes team about any of the suggestions discussed here.

In our clinic all our patient has an emergency plan in case that the pump don’t work properly or they choose disconnect for a while.

Finally, don't forget the sunscreen! Getting a sunburn can be much more of a hassle than travelling with an insulin pump. And enjoy your holidays.

Ramiro Antuña de Alaiz
Diabetes Treatment Unit

insulin pumps > Going out on holidays with a pump