Why diabetics should avoid travelling to high altitudes

Washington: Insulin needs could go up or down in diabetics when they travel to high altitudes, a new study has suggested.

Individuals with poorly controlled diabetes are also at risk for hypothermia, frostbite, and dehydration.

Paul Richards, Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environmental Medicine, University College (London, U.K.) and David Hillebrandt, President, International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation Medical Commission (Bern, Switzerland), discuss the harmful effects that altitude, temperature extremes, reduced oxygen levels, and physical exertion may have on people with diabetes when they travel to destinations at high altitude for business or pleasure.

In their article, the authors explore issues related to diabetes management, such as the risk that insulin may become less effective when exposed to heat or cold and how to store it properly.

They also caution that blood glucose measuring devices may be less accurate at high altitude.

The study has been published in the journal High Altitude Medicine and Biology.