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

Economic burden of prediabetes up 74 percent over five years

Nov 20, 2014

The economic burden of diabetes in America continues to climb, exceeding more than $322 billion in excess medical costs and lost productivity in 2012, or more than $1,000 for every American, according to a study being published ...

Gynoid fat resists metabolic risks of obesity

Nov 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—The differences in the developmental profiles of upper-body and lower-body fat depots may explain their opposing associations with obesity-related metabolic disease, according to research published ...

Treating diabetes one meal at a time

Nov 19, 2014

Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050. The American Diabetes Association observes November as American Diabetes Month, and this year's theme is America ...

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.