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June 5, 2009

Insulin Pumps, Traveling

Question from Florida, USA:

We are traveling to Europe next week. Our son uses an insulin pump. What adjustments should be made to adjust for the time change going and coming?

Answer:

Using an insulin pump is perfect for this type of change in schedules.

I assume that the your son’s daytime and nighttime basal rates are relatively similar and not wildly discordant (say by 30% or more). I am also assuming that the travel will be by airplane. During the actual travel, I would not make any adjustments in basal rates. I would check his glucose every two to four hours during the time of the person’s body clock that might normally be active during part of the plane trip. I would give correction boluses or eat compensatory snacks accordingly. Don’t be too worried if glycemic control is too erratic during that time or the first day as one gets used to new time zones and eating and sleeping schedules.

Once in the new time zone, with the real intention of accommodating the new daytime/nighttime activity, I would then simply then just switch the clock on the pump. If the activities at the arrival destination(s) were more than what is usual ‘back home,’ then check glucose frequently and watch and treat lows. If glucoses were higher than expected, use corrections as you would normally do for your basal-bolus regimen.

Do the same on the travel back home.

Have a good time!

DS