I just returned from vacation. My first flight was under 2 hours. I ate and took insulin a couple of hours before my flight. 5 hours later (no longer any insulin on board) while starting to descend to my layover my sugar was 74 so I ate 10 g, then another 6 by the time we landed. I felt horrible and started sweating. Half hour later while going through customs the same scenario happened again. This happened a couple of times to me over the years. I wear a Dexcom and Omnipod. Any suggestions??? I asked my doctor at my last appointment and he didn’t have any suggestions on flying…Thanks
Did you do a lot of walking to get to your gate at the airport? Luggage, ticketing, security, baggage, etc. And also a lot of activity while on vacation? Those things can add up.
I don’t think the flight itself can have much affect on pumps. Changes in pressure have very little effect on the volume of liquid.
Maybe you could get extra insulin if there was air in the pump or in a pump tube. But since you are using an Omnipod, you don’t have tubing and don’t have any significant amount of air in the pump reservoir.
I am pretty active. The airport was as big as a house, so no walking and my husband carried all our luggage. Thank you for your reply.
But if there’s any air bubble in the reservoir…
I have heard of this effect. I vaguely recall old advice from Medtronic to disconnect before descent. That said, I never experienced hypos during air travel.
Yes, if there is air in the reservoir, it would expand. But it depends on how much air you had in there.
If the temperature inside the plane is kept constant, the pressure difference inside the plane between takeoff and cruising altitude goes from roughly 14.7 psi to 10.95 psi (based on the standard 8,000 feet pressure they generally have in the cabin).
Using Boyle’s Law (v1p1=v2p2), if you had 1 unit of air in a 200 unit insulin pump reservoir (the limit for an omnipod), you’d end up with an additional 0.34 units of air, which in theory could get pushed out.
Its been interesting reading about this. Whenever I have traveled by plane, I have consistently found that my BGs go HIGH, not low. But I assume that has to be related to my personal anxiety and stress about flying. It really does a number on me. I just slightly up my pump TB basal rate and it seems to do the trick.
But I do understand the issues Eric mentioned about all the walking through the airport etc. and the impact that can have on your BG. Also, sometimes, although rarely, when I am anxious my BG will slide down a bit. Also, I do not experience a Low BG until I am in my 50s, so a BG in my 70s would not bother me. If I am more comfortable being in my 90s, I would just take a Glucose Tablet (which typically raises my BG by 20 points) and let go and check my BG in 45 minutes.
good luck flying and enjoy your trip wherever you are traveling!!!
Thank you so much for your reply. I guess I should be more specific on what happened. I fly often enough that I am not nervous when flying. We were at a very tiny airport so basically we parked our car like it would be going to a grocery store and checked in and the plane was on the other side of the door so there was very little walking involved and no stress. Insulin from lunch was well gone out of my system and my sugar was pretty good but then it started to drop at 74 I decided to eat something. I am a sensitive diabetic so don’t usually feel my lows until it is sometimes in the 40s. After I ate something my sugar continue to drop to where I was soaked in sweat and my sugars were in the low 50s high 40s. I’m on a scale that I take one unit of insulin for every 10 g of carbohydrates I eat. Over an hour. I ate roughly 32 g of carbohydrates and was just barely above 70. Over the last several years it has happened to me a couple of times. I am thankful my husband was with me but because they happened far enough apart I don’t see a common denominator. I was just wondering if anybody else has experienced anything like that. Thank you all for your input
This exact same thing has been happening to me a lot lately. I am not hypo aware and dont begin to feel low until I am in my low 50s/40s. I treat and wait, but not only have I not seen a rise, but my BG has either remained the same or even gone lower. I could be on this glucose feeding for hours, and then suddenly I spike terribly, as if I had taken all of those glucose tablets at one time. Then I end up doing a correction, and then, sometimes, I will go too low again. Its an absolute nightmare of a roller coaster. I hate it. Just yesterday I got so sick of it that I reduced my basal rate profile and changed my TR so that instead of aiming at BGs of 70-110, to aim at 90-120. I just made this change yesterday, and today is the first day that I am trying this experiment out, but my last finger stick was 73. I actually took 1 4gm Gtab, which should bring me up into the 90s. But we’ll see what happens. I hope it works out well. I’m utterly exhausted from days of this.
So, just to say, I totally gotcha!
Hang in there. (and btw, I love your airport!! Totally awesome.)
Thank you Daisymae, I am not a doctor, but having your target range at 70 sounds low. I have my Omnipod targeted at 110. I know Diabetes is a tough disease, but I realize I am grateful to be alive although I wish I could have a vacation away from it once a year so that I can eat and drink whatever I want and not have to think of food, carbohydrates, target ranges and whether I have guessed close enough to what I have eaten. That is why this website is great so that we can ask questions and see if others are experiencing the same things. I think sometimes we don’t wait long enough after eating something when we have a low that we eat again and then find ourselves with a high. My doctor once told me “do not correct a high that is followed by a low.” This has helped me. I hope you are well and wish you luck. I understand your exhaustion. By the way that small airport was not my airport (I live in a big city), but was in The Bahamas and on my way home…
Thanks for this, Cindy. since I changed my TR to 90-120, and lowered my basal rates, I am doing a LOT better. My worst low was 57 (which was upon waking) in the past two days. I havent gone low overnight or during the day at all. And I have been much more patient and more forgiving with anything over 105 (which I used to have an absolute panic attack over ) I think that for me, Having OCD and an uncle who died from D pancreatic cancer, had gone blind and had two feet amputated, I have been a completely fear-based D. I am a control freak, and I have some fantasy that if I let myself go, I will suffer what I watched my uncle suffer. I already have more than several D complications such as neuropathy and gastroparesis and I dont want to tempt or invite any more complications.
Just like you, I wish I had a D vacation. But I would prefer more than just once a year If all things were possible, I would simply prefer a cure!
I have realized that there are always changes. I have been a Diabetic for almost 30 years, I work with the doctor and often with a diabetes educator changing my settings to try to get to my target rate. Trying to get to 105 I can see where you would drop a lot. Last summer I almost died with getting a large overdose of insulin and had lows in the 40’s for almost 24 hours. I was in the hospital and was thankful for the nurses and my Dexcom since I needed some sort of carbs/sugar every half hour. Since then I try not to get so close to that target range and am happy with anything under 150. When I do get a low in the like I did at the airport the fear of what happen a year ago comes back. I understand being a control freak, I am the same way, but I was once told to let go of that control of perfection and LIVE…Hugs to you…
This is perhaps one of the most useful things anyone has said to me all year. And I thank you for that. BTW, I have been D for even longer than 30 years, and I wasn’t always like this. I used to be quite satisfied with BGs in the 200s. But then I began getting all sorts of D complications and it freaked me out, and when I watched my uncle die with all of his D related problems, I got kinda scared straight." And so I tried to clean up my act. For the past 4 1/2 years, my A1c has been between 4.7% and 5.2% and I’ve kept it that way with a sense of pride. Before that, if I came in anywhere near a 7% I was simply over the moon with delight.
I know I have to practice “letting go,” and simply ENJOY life without being such a control freak. For now it is just baby steps. This morning I woke up with a BG of 74 and decided that I should lower my 6am basal rate slightly so that I could wake up a little higher in the morning. I’m feeling ok with that.Also, I made a decision yesterday to NOT do any corrections if I am under 135. This is HUGE for me. I mean, I am talking a Major breakthrough!! It is a challenge, but I think I will adapt with practice.
I am extremely grateful for your posts and responses to me. I just love the absolute unselfish, unconditional support I get from FUD and its community of members. Some of us we have the opportunity to get to know, and some remain complete strangers, but despite whichever, we continue to reach out and help ANYONE who wants the help and support. It has been a life-changing experience for me. It has been better than learning just about anything from my endo over all the many years (even though he is stellar fantastic).
Again, thank you so very much Cindy!