Throughout the United States, November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. There are many ways in which diabetes complicates foot care which require podiatric patients to take special precautions. During Thanksgiving, many people are also traveling, which presents more challenges. To help our patients protect themselves and better enjoy the holidays, we wanted to pass along some diabetes and foot-related travel tips.
It’s a good idea for patients to get letters from their physicians describing what care they require before traveling long distances. These letters are reminders to the patient and can be useful when interacting with transportation security and out-of-state pharmacists and doctors. Medications are usually exempt from rules against carrying more than 3.4 ounces of liquids on airplanes, but they need to be in separate, clear bags and it’s a good idea to get prescription labels for them. Patients are also advised to pack twice as many medications as they expect to need, to bring healthy snacks, and to avoid putting insulin anywhere where it will be subject to particularly hot or cold conditions. This includes in checked luggage, which is put in unheated areas. Patients should also set timers so changes in time zones won’t confuse their injection schedule. Many people get medical IDs that state they have diabetes in case of an emergency.
Foot Wear during Travel
People with diabetes are used to planning what footwear to use in different situations, but not everybody is a frequent traveler. During long periods spent in vehicles, patients should stick to comfortable, close-toed shoes that they have worn previously. If they feel they will need fancier shoes or boots for icy conditions immediately upon arrival at their destination, they could keep them in their carry-on luggage. Specially-designed socks for people with diabetes are meant to ease blood flow, provide padding, and wick moisture. Even diabetic people who don’t normally wear them might consider them for travel, particularly if they are going to a cooler climate. Walking around about once an hour helps to prevent clots.
In Case of Injury
Among their easily-accessible supplies, diabetic people should pack antibacterial cream, gauze, hypoallergenic tape, and cleansing towelettes. (It’s impossible to know what the soap and water situation might be in a bus or train bathroom or along a stretch of highway.) Patients should continue to regularly check their feet for injuries, and if they find one, they should clean it, apply gauze with tape, and change their dressing daily. However, they should not apply lotion between their toes or put cream on frostbite, and frostbite requires immediate medical treatment. Patients can reduce their chance of a foot injury by cutting their toenails straight across when wet prior to leaving home.