This week’s episode is all about air travel with type 1 diabetes. I talk about tips for going through security, how to deal with pressure changes in the airplane, and diabetes-friendly snacks to bring with you.
I know flying can be stressful—my blood sugar certainly agrees! I’m pretty sure I’ve never made it through a flight without my blood sugar going high at some point.
One of the most important tips for flying with insulin pumps and CGMs in particular is that they should not go through the full body scanners or the luggage X-ray machines.
For Tandem pumps in particular, if you can easily unhook from your infusion site, you can hand the pump to a TSA agent for a hand-check, and go through the metal detector just fine. My Dexcom does not set off the metal detector.
People with diabetes can pre-board. That means when the gate agent calls for people who need extra time or assistance, we qualify. If they ask (and they probably won't) just tell them you have diabetes and need to make sure your supplies are within easy access at all times.
My biggest stressor with flying has been overhead bin space, and learning this pro-tip has drastically reduced my stress levels when boarding.
Wins & Fails
Colleen’s Win: I kept my blood sugars mostly stable during my second work conference of the month! This is always a struggle when I’m dealing with conference food… (Smartsheet sure hit it out of the park this year with their conference food!)
Hack of the Week
Use a hard-shell container for transporting your diabetes supplies for air travel. This will protect the supplies inside your bags.
The cardboard “CHANGE SET” thing is 1) a reminder to change my set, and 2) is my extremely useful device to dry the alcohol-swabbed location where I’m inserting either a site or a sensor.
I take the cartridges and cartridge syringe bottoms out of their plastic packaging and add them to the bag with the syringes to save on space. Otherwise it’s a lot of excess wrapping I’ve got to try shoving in there!
Since I started flying almost once a month for my full-time job in late 2022, I have altered how I carry my diabetes supplies on airplanes.
I now use a Myabetic Strand Diabetes Packing Cube that fits neatly into my carry-on backpack. This gives me a lot more space to bring extra supplies, snacks, and it also keeps things contained.
Diabetes in the News
A company called ViaCyte has released a report from a clinical trial that shows that their implanted cells, called PEC-01 cells, are capable of producing C-peptide in type 1 patients. This is significant because “C-peptide is a biomarker for insulin and is used for assessing insulin-producing cells in patients with T1D.”
One of the constant problems with transplant therapies for type 1 diabetics is that it’s not a true cure when you have to take immunosuppressants. It’s just swapping insulin for another drug you’re dependent on. So the fact that PEC-Encap wouldn’t require immunosuppressants is really good news for research into a cure.
Mentioned in This Episode
- Medtronic airport advisory
- Omnipod airport advisory—states their devices can safely pass through airport X-ray machines.
- Tandem airport advisory (PDF Warning!)
- Dexcom Flying Guide
- Bubble formation occurs in insulin pumps in response to changes in ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure but not as a result of vibration (Bernoulli’s Principle)
Community & Social
- Join us in the Half-Dead Pancreas Club, our private Discord community for people with T1D.
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