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5 tips for getting through airport security with an insulin pump

If your holiday plans include air travel, here’s a reminder for families with children using insulin pumps.

Most pump manufacturers caution that insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors should not be exposed to X-rays, such as those in luggage and full-body scanners.

Recent reports show these medical devices may malfunction after passing through an imaging device, so it’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The warning applies only to X-rays, so passengers with pumps can pass safely through common security systems, such as metal detectors.

Janet Haas, a certified diabetes educator with the Akron Children’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, offers the following tips for travelers planning to fly this holiday season.

  1. Review the Transportation Safety Administration’s website for people traveling with medical conditions to check for updates. Follow the instructions for labeling and packaging any medical supplies and equipment that are permitted through security.
  2. Air travel requires insulin containers to have original pharmacy labeling including vials, pens, cartridges, boxes, etc. All other supplies don’t require a prescription. Note that letters are no longer accepted.
  3. Give yourself plenty of time to pass through security with your family. Notify the TSA officer that: 1) you have medical supplies, etc; 2) your child is wearing an insulin pump, and it should be hand-checked.
  4. You should also be aware that a plane’s increased cabin pressure can cause slight variances in the amount of insulin delivered by your child’s pump, so you should monitor your child carefully during the flight.
  5. Pack snacks such as nutrition bars to quickly treat low blood sugar.

Haas offers more tips on traveling with a child with diabetes, and the American Diabetes Associations has a Fact Sheet for Air Travel and Diabetes.

You can also visit akronchildrens.org/diabetes for information and resources on caring for a child with diabetes.

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