Font Size

Diabetes Emergencies

Medical Author: Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Viewers have been submitting a number of questions about emergency situations as they pertain to patients with diabetes. While every situation is different and each patient has different needs and demands, we at eMedicineHealth felt that it would be helpful to address some significant issues. Patients with diabetes who require insulin (either type 1 or type 2 diabetes) do pose a challenge when it comes to emergency situations. Let me outline some of the problems and hopefully present some useful options.

Air Travel And Diabetes Medications

With the changes in regulations in air travel, patients with diabetes are concerned about what they can, and cannot pack in their carry-on luggage.

From the TSA website: Notify the Security Officer that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you. The following diabetes-related supplies and equipment are allowed through the checkpoint once they have been screened:

Diabetes Testing Kit
Diabetes Testing Kit

  • Insulin and insulin loaded dispensing products (vials or box of individual vials, jet injectors, biojectors, epipens, infusers, and preloaded syringes;
  • Unlimited number of unused syringes when accompanied by insulin or other injectable medication;
  • lancets, blood glucose meters, blood glucose meter test strips, alcohol swabs, meter-testing solutions;
  • Insulin pump and insulin pump supplies (cleaning agents, batteries, plastic tubing, infusion kit, catheter, and needle); Insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin.
  • Glucagon emergency kit;
  • Urine ketone test strips;
  • Unlimited number of used syringes when transported in Sharps disposal container or other similar hard-surface container.
  • Sharps disposal containers or similar hard-surface disposal container for storing used syringes and test strips.
Diabetes and Insulin
Diabetes and Insulin

Insulin in any form or dispenser must be clearly identified.

If you are concerned or uncomfortable about going through the walk-through metal detector with your insulin pump, notify the Security Officer that you are wearing an insulin pump and would like a full-body pat-down and a visual inspection of your pump instead.

Advise the Security Officer that the insulin pump cannot be removed because it is inserted with a catheter (needle) under the skin.

Advise the Security Officer if you are experiencing low blood sugar and are in need of medical assistance.

You have the option of requesting a visual inspection of your insulin and diabetes associated supplies. See this Medication section for details.

Place all of your medications and related supplies in clear zip-lock bags if possible. This way visual inspection is much easier for the TSA agents.


Medical Dictionary