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Diabetes Insulin Management and Crossing Time Zones – How to Adjust?

Posted Mar 29 2010 8:02pm

Traveling across different time zones can cause elevations or drops in blood sugar if not managed properly and with all the other concerns of traveling – it’s an extra step that’s often delayed or forgotten.  Carolyn Robertson, Clinical Nurse Specialist (ACNS-BC) who is Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management shares the following guide with her patients at the UCLA Gonda Diabetes Center to help them better adjust when traveling.

What Changes In Insulin Are Required When Traveling Involves a Change In Time Zones?

First, its important to remember that you always need insulin – whether you plan to sleep, exercise, eat or whatever.  Second, it is hard to predict the exact effect that changing time zones will have on your blood sugar.

1.  If your day will either be lengthened or shortened by more than 1 hour because of changing time zones, you must alter the timing of your pump.

·         If the time zone changes are less than two hours, you can  change the time of the pump when you arrive at your destination.

·         If the time zone changes exceed two hours, then you should plan to alter the time on the pump in stages. The timing of your basal delivery must be altered to accommodate the changes in your Circadian RHYTHM that result from travel across time zones. This will allow you to better match the gradual change in your  Circadian rhythm.  Learn about Circadian rhythm here…

(2)   Keep to local time the day you are traveling.

(3)   The first day at your destination (usually at supper), alter the time on your pump by two to three hours.

(4) The second day at your destination, alter the pump’s time again by two to three hours. Continue to do this adjustment daily until your time on the pump matches local time.

(5)   Repeat the above procedure for your trip home

From the comfort of my seat - checking the time on my pump and keeping it local - for now.

On a day like today when I am traveling from Asia to Europe with a time zone change (behind me) of eight hours – these easy steps make a big difference on how well I acclimate.  As soon as my bags are in the overhead compartment, and I am buckled up and ready to relax – before anything else, I check my blood sugar and then think about my plan of action when I arrive at my destination. Tonight I arrive in Rome around the dinner hour – important to note  - before I bolus and eat around 7 pm, I’ll move the clock from my local time three hours BACK.  In two days my pump will be on local time to Rome. (Moving the clock back 3 hours tonight, 3 tomorrow, and 2 my third day.)

Almost perfect. (perfecto)

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