Ahead of World Diabetes Day, International SOS emphasizes care abroad
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Ahead of World Diabetes Day, International SOS emphasizes care abroad

November 14 marks World Diabetes Day, and in advance of the day, International SOS is highlighting the importance for travelers to manage their diabetes.

“When considering medical risks abroad, travelers often focus on infectious diseases that are present in exotic locations,” said Dr. Irene Lai, medical director at International SOS. “Whilst these are serious risks that need to be considered, a more common issue is the underlying chronic disease that travelers take with them, such as diabetes.

Travel means disruptive schedules and unfamiliar food. Failure to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes can pose a greater risk to travelers than infectious diseases.

The World Health Organization estimates that diabetes affects 8.5 percent of people over the age of 18 worldwide. Today, approximately 415 million adults have diabetes, and by 2040 this number is expected to reach 642 million.

Medications may also be confiscated at borders, and replacing them blindly could be dangerous.

“Losing or running out of medications while abroad may not be the simple problem it is when at home. Brand names are different, the medications may not have been stored properly, may have expired or may even be counterfeit,” said Lai.

International SOS offers the following advice for individuals traveling with diabetes.

  • Visit your healthcare professional well in advance of travel to discuss your itinerary and activities.
  • Ensure your diabetes is stable and optimally controlled.
  • Have enough medication for the trip and a bit extra in case of delays. Medication should be in its original container, clearly labelled with the contents and your name.
  • Request a letter describing your condition, medication and equipment required and carry a copy of your prescriptions.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle even when away from home.
  • Members are advised to contact International SOS for assistance in sourcing appropriate healthcare providers when they are abroad if required.

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