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Keeping you and your medications safe over the summer holidays

travelling-summerGoing on a road trip with the family? Going interstate or overseas with friends? Summer is the perfect time to unwind, relax and re-charge with a well-earned holiday adventure.

But hot summer temperatures can adversely affect medication and other diabetes supplies, so a little bit of extra planning around correct storage of your medication, blood glucose strips and meters can help prepare you for a safe and enjoyable holiday experience.

Storing your oral medications

Oral diabetes medications must be stored according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If storage conditions fall outside of these recommendations, the quality of the medication may deteriorate.

The majority of medications only require storage at room temperature, which is typically less than 25 – 30°C. It is therefore important to keep medications away from direct sunlight. For example, don’t keep medication in any part of your car for extended periods of time, including the dashboard, glove box or boot.

If you are flying, keep your medication in your carry-on bag. This ensures that you are able to access your medication during the fl ight and if your checked bags get lost, you still have your medication with you. Also, the bag storage area of the plane can get very hot or very cold which is not good storage condition for your medication.

Storing your insulin and other injectable medications

Insulin and exenatide (Byetta/ Bydureon) also have recommended storage conditions as outlined by their manufacturer. For these medications, the best place for long-term storage prior to opening, is in their original carton, in the fridge at 2°C to 8°C.

Once opened, insulin, Byetta and Bydureon can safely be kept out of the fridge at room temperature (less than 30°C for insulin and Bydureon and less than 25°C for Byetta) for up to 28 days.

Never store insulin, Byetta or Bydureon in the freezer, or in the direct sunlight for example in the glove box of a car. Most of the time, you will be able to store them in your normal travel bag.

If flying, the same recommendations as those outlined for oral medications apply. It is also important to remember that once insulin, Byetta or Bydureon are kept outside of the fridge for longer than 28 days, even if unopened, their potency is not guaranteed and they should be discarded.

What about your blood glucose monitoring equipment?

It is important that your blood glucose meter and blood glucose strips are kept at room temperature. It is well documented that storing blood glucose strips at high temperatures or high humidity can shorten the life of the strips, leading to unreliable blood glucose results.

This error may be large, and usually the meters are unable to detect whether there is a problem with the affected strips. Therefore, blood glucose strips should not be left in a hot car or exposed to other environmental elements such as rain and snow. This also applies to your blood glucose meter where extremes in temperature affect meter accuracy.

All meters are sensitive to heat and cold and must be protected from extreme changes in temperature and humidity. As with other electronic devices, blood glucose meters must be protected from moisture, so keep them away from water.

How to pack your diabetes supplies for the trip

If you are visiting a very warm place these summer holidays, you should protect your supplies by keeping them in a small insulated bag. A cool pack that can be re-frozen may be useful, if going on longer day trips. Enjoy your summer holidays!

Other things to consider during the summer holiday heat

The heat of summer may affect your blood glucose levels, but it is also very much dependant on what you have eaten, whether you are well hydrated and how active you have been.

These extra tips may ensure that you have a safe, enjoyable holiday:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated – always have a water bottle handy to prevent dehydration.
  • Monitor your blood glucose levels more frequently – hot temperatures can cause unexpected fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
  • Carry your ‘hypo’ treatment for those of you who are using insulin or glucose lowering medication, sulfonylurea (refer page 14) remember to carry your hypo treatment with you.
  • Be sun smart — don’t forget to wear your high-factor sunscreen, wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses, and limit the amount of time that you spend in the direct sunlight; seek shade whenever possible.

Read the original article 

Click here to read the original article. Author: Susan Bellman CDE. Published in Diabetes SA Living Magazine – November 2016, page 16-17.

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