Is travel to high altitudes more risky for people with diabetes?

© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Many factors can affect blood sugar control at high altitudes, and people considering a mountain journey need to understand the potential risks of the environmental extremes, extensive exercise, and dietary changes they may experience. Insulin needs may increase or decrease and individuals with poorly controlled diabetes are especially at risk for hypothermia, frostbite, and dehydration, for example. These and other dangers are described by two doctors who have diabetes and are avid mountaineers in an article published in High Altitude Medicine & Biology.

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 for business or pleasure.

In the article "The Practical Aspects of Insulin at High Altitude" 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.

"With the rising prevalence of , its management is increasingly becoming an issue at high altitude," says John B. West, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of High Altitude Medicine & Biology and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. "This statement by two experts in the field is a valuable contribution in a difficult area."

More information: The article is available free on the High Altitude Medicine & Biology.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How high is space?

Jul 26, 2013

Look up, there's space. Astronomically speaking, it's right there, just outside a thin layer of atmosphere. But how far away is it? How high is space?

Genetic adaptation for high altitudes identified

Aug 15, 2013

Research led by scientists from the University of California, San Diego has decoded the genetic basis of chronic mountain sickness (CMS) or Monge's disease. Their study provides important information that validates the genetic ...

Recommended for you

Screening for diabetes at dental visits using oral blood

18 hours ago

It is estimated that 8.1 million of the 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes are undiagnosed and many who have diabetes have poor glycemic control. Given that each year many Americans visit a dental provider but not ...

CBT, sertraline insufficient in diabetes and depression

19 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with diabetes and depression, improvements in depression are seen with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or sertraline, with a significant advantage for sertraline, but glycemic ...

Early signs in young children predict type 1 diabetes

Feb 26, 2015

New research shows that it is possible to predict the development of type 1 diabetes. By measuring the presence of autoantibodies in the blood, it is possible to detect whether the immune system has begun to break down the ...

Daily menu plan reduces blood sugar significantly

Feb 25, 2015

A large group of people with diabetes who followed a menu plan created by University of Alberta nutrition researchers for just three months significantly reduced their blood sugar levels.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.