Visiting Bali with Diabetes

Some 10 percent of people with diabetes experience problems with diabetes control when traveling. Visit Bali and travel safely with these tips:

Carry a doctor’s letter: your trip through airport security will go smoother if you plan ahead: Ask your doctor to write a letter alerting airport officials about your diabetes and your need to carry insulin, syringes, test strips, and other supplies. Also carry with you pharmacy-labeled pill bottles and insulin vials.

Adjust insulin: crossing time zones is tricky for people with diabetes because it requires adjustments to insulin injections and is highly individual. That’s why you should mention your trip to your doctor at least a month before you leave.

Mention your diabetes and consider wearing a medic alert bracelet: if you’re traveling alone, it’s important that someone on the flight know about your diabetes in case of an emergency. Alert a flight attendant when you board. You don’t have to go into details, but let him or her know that you may need soda or juice if you become hypoglycemic.

Disconnect your pump: you may want to consider briefly disconnecting from your pump during takeoff and landing. Before reconnecting your pump after takeoff and landing, check for air bubbles caused by altitude change (note that the pump is not too familiar to the Balinese as it is in Jakarta).

Keep meds and supplies cool: Bali is 30 degrees most of the year, so if it’s warm enough for you to sit out by the pool, it’s probably too hot for your insulin, which should be kept at room temperature (Bring along cool packs for storing your insulin.)

Consider injections instead of a pump: many pumps are waterproof enough to swim with, though check your user’s manual before you jump in. Certain pumps require you to disconnect before going in the water.

Don’t go barefoot: debris on the beach such as bottle caps, and other trash can cut your foot. If you can’t feel the cut because of neuropathy, you may not notice a problem until it’s too late and infection has set in. Always wear sandals or water shoes when walking on Bali beaches and do foot checks when you return to your hotel.

Pack supplies: never assume you’ll easily be able to find diabetes supplies if travelling to the north of the island. Carry insulin, a blood glucose meter, test strips, syringes, backup infusion sets, and glucose tablets or gels in a bag you’ll have on you at all times.

Store insulin properly: keep insulin cool when you are far from the nearest refrigerator or ice machine. Instead of packing a cooler with traditional ice packs, which need to be refrozen when they get warm, pick a cool pack; just run it under cold water for five to 10 minutes, and crystals in the pouch will keep insulin cool for hours.

Deal with dirty hands: if you need to test your blood glucose, but you have no way to clean your hands, bring small packets of alcohol wipes or wet wipes with you when out and about around the island.

Understand Indonesian food: eat in restaurants rather than from street vendors because there’s a greater chance someone will speak English and can answer any questions you may have. For the most part finding fresh and healthy food in Bali is a snap.

Make note of BIMC hospital locations in Nusa Dua and Kuta. Also, do an online search for “travelling Bali with diabetes” and you’ll find excellent recommendations to make your visit a safe one.

 Health-e reporting with sources: VoyageMD.com

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BIMC Hospital Nusa Dua
The first hospital in Indonesia with accreditation from Australian Council on Healthcare Standard International  (ACHSI)

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