Cabin Pressure Could Affect Insulin Dispensers

A warning has been issued by scientists from Australia about a new concern involving insulin pumps on planes. Based on a recent study, it shows that some insulin pumps may malfunction due to the effects of cabin pressure on-board the aircraft.

Scientists believe that the increased pressure caused during flight could cause some devices to either dispense too much, or even too little insulin, which in turn would put diabetics at risk without an alternative form of treatment available.

Although the study did confirm that reports of malfunctions were not common, there were still some individuals who experienced trouble with their devices.

“I believe most people would rather know exactly how much insulin their pumps were giving,” said one of the researchers on the study, Bruce King. Following the recommendations means that they would know and are in control of what is happening with their pump.”

The results of the study, which were published in the journal Diabetes Care, compared data gathered from 10 insulin pumps that are commonly used for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. They found that some of the pumps were delivering extra insulin during takeoffs when the air pressure decreases, and too little when pressure increased.

Researchers not only recommend disconnecting the devices before flight, but to exercise caution when they reconnect them. Diabetics would need to watch out for air bubbles that could form in the insulin while in various parts of the flight where cabin pressure fluctuates. They also recommend frequent safety checks of the equipment.

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