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

Low-carb diet recommended for diabetics

Jul 29, 2014

A new study involving researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other institutions says patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes should eat a diet low in carbohydrates.

Shift work linked to heightened risk of type 2 diabetes

Jul 24, 2014

Shift work is linked to a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with the risk seemingly greatest among men and those working rotating shift patterns, indicates an analysis of the available evidence published online ...

Rosemary and oregano contain diabetes-fighting compounds

Jul 23, 2014

The popular culinary herbs oregano and rosemary are packed with healthful compounds, and now lab tests show they could work in much the same way as prescription anti-diabetic medication, scientists report. In their new study ...

User comments