Type 2 diabetes: Going on holiday? Seven things people with type 2 diabetes should know
Type 2 diabetes means a person’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. Rising blood sugar levels can pose serious health risks such as heart disease and strokes. To keep the risks at bay, a person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may need to overhaul their lifestyle and plan their days more carefully than before. Going on holiday can present a series of challenges for people with type 2 diabetes.
Pack twice as much medicine as you normally need
“Pack your medicines in your hand luggage and take twice as much as you would normally need to cover all possible situations,” said Professor Trenell.
It is also imperative that people with diabetes remember to pack a letter from their doctor explaining that they have type 2 diabetes and the things they need to help manage it, he advises.
Drink water regularly
“Keep hydrated – drinking water regularly is integral. Keep an eye on the colour of your urine as this indicates dehydration and when you should up your fluid intake,” said Professor Trenell.
Dr Michael Mosley also advises drinking two litres of water a day, “which in a hotter climate will also help keep you hydrated and sated.”
Positive diet swaps
“The trick to managing a healthy diet with Type 2 diabetes is finding positive swaps that you can keep up for the long term, rather than a crash diet that’s hard to sustain,” he explained.
This doesn’t mean people can’t enjoy an occasional holiday treat in moderation, says Professor Trenell. “It is totally okay, but if you can, try to find a healthier substitute for products high in carbs and sugar that you’ll still enjoy.”
For example, maybe a slimline gin and tonic instead of a beer, or pumpernickel bread rather than white, he added.
Managing the hot weather
Hot weather can cause blood sugar levels to rise, causing insulin to work quicker, warns Professor Trenell.
According to Dr Sally Norton, people with diabetes may have less control of body temperature regulation from sweating – this can increase the risk of hyperthermia.
“If you’re in a hotter climate than usual, ensure that you monitor your blood sugar levels more frequently and treat accordingly,” said Professor Trenell.
“If your flight is longer than three hours, it’s important to keep moving,” said Dr Trenell.
He recommends a person tries lower leg exercises, like drawing circle shapes with their toes or raising a bent leg up to their chest 20-30 times for each leg, to prevent blood clots.
Jumping time zones
“As well as warm temperatures, losing sleep will cause your blood sugar levels to rise,” warned Professor Trenell.
He added: “Again, if you’ve been in a different time zone, ensure that you monitor your blood sugar levels and adjust your carbohydrate levels accordingly.”
A back up plan
A person with diabetes should do their homework beforehand to be prepared for every possible eventuality, says Professor Trenell.
“Know what to do in case of a problem and always have the relevant paperwork to hand – health insurance documents, local pharmacy and doctors details, and list of your medication including amount, not just the generic brand name.”
People also tend to get up later on holiday. Disrupting the normal daily routine can pose health risks for people with type 2 diabetes. To keep blood sugar levels under control, Dr Mosely said: “Try time restricted eating, where you extend your overnight fast by several hours and start eating at lunchtime.”