Managing CFRD While Traveling

If you have cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD), the following are some tips to help you manage your treatment while traveling. 

4 min read
In this article
  • Managing cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) can be a challenge while traveling.
  • These tips can help you manage CFRD when you're away from home.

Keep Your Meds on You

Keep your cystic fibrosis medications with you, including your insulin and supplies. If you take once daily, long-acting insulin, contact your CF center or endocrinologist to make any adjustments for visiting or traveling through different time zones. If you have syringes and needles for injections, ask your doctor to write a note explaining that it is medically necessary to carry these supplies.

Watch Your Sugar

When traveling, different factors such as increased physical activity or alcohol consumption can alter your blood sugar level. Make sure you have carbohydrates readily available to prevent hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. If traveling with others, tell your travel companions that you have diabetes, and let them know signs to watch out for that may signal a drop or spike in your blood sugar. 

Keep Snacks in Reach

When you're on vacation, your diet may be different than the one you follow at home. If you're traveling to a different time zone, you may be hungry at different times than mealtimes. Make sure you have access to food or snacks at all times, including during your flight. In addition, don't forget to always carry glucose tablets with you.

Drink Alcohol Responsibly

Alcohol can cause your blood sugar to get too high or too low. If you plan to drink alcohol on vacation, eat foods that contain carbohydrates when drinking and limit your nightly alcohol intake to one drink for women and two for men -- one drink is 12 ounces of beer, 4 to 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, cordials or liqueurs. You must check your blood sugars more often while you drink alcohol. You may also need to check your blood sugar during the night, especially if you drank too much or you have been physically active while drinking.

Stay Hydrated

People with CF are at risk of dehydration in hot climates, and if you have CFRD, you're at even greater risk. Drink plenty of water -- even when you're not thirsty -- with a pinch of salt added to it or energy drinks that have salt supplements. Also be sure to drink a lot of water (at least 400 ml) before exercising and, if exercising for a long period of time, rehydrate every 15-20 minutes. Salt tablets can also help you stay hydrated; ask your CF care team if you need them. If you are flying, in addition to drinking lots of water, be sure to also eat salty snacks and to keep moving. Due to the low humidity on flights, you are at greater risk of dehydration.

Supplement Your Diet

Traveling can make adhering to your meal plan tough. Sometimes you may not feel like eating or you may not be hungry. If you are in a foreign country, you may be eating unfamiliar foods. High-calorie supplements can be a great source of extra calories during these times if it's possible to bring them with you. Ask your CF care team for the right one for you.

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