Hiking With Diabetes: A Few Quick Tips


Feb 13, 2014
I recently ran across a pretty important concern that doesn't seem to be talked about enough, especially a 'Written Sick Day Plan' for campers with Diabetes. Since I am not diabetic, I hope this can generate some new feedback, so we can all educate each other in this important subject!

As a Wilderness First Responder, I keep a packet of honey in my 1st Aid Kit (like a ketchup packet). There’s not much out there that can get a dangerously low blood sugar to raise quicker. You can look for glucose paste, but it is much more difficult to find & costs a lot more. Note: WFR's in the field CANNOT TREAT Diabetic concerns unless the patient has an unresponsive LOR (Level Of Responsiveness).

Another important thing that comes to mind for a diabetic is to keep a written SICK DAY PLAN: A ‘What To Do, And How To Do It’ if you have an episode on the trail. One might need someone else to follow the instructions, so it should be easy to understand and follow. TOO MUCH INSULIN can give signs and symptoms of weakness, irritability, and becoming disoriented. +Heart Rate, +Respitory Rate, Pink/Cool/Clammy skin color/tempterature/moisture. TOO LITTLE INSULIN can give signs and symptoms of restlessness, drunk-like behavior, +Heart Rate (Rapid/Weak), +Respitory Rate, Hunger/Thirst, frequent urine output, fatigue. Breath can sometimes be noted as being sweet. Often times, an unsuitable diabetic reaction can cause your trip to have a 0 day.

A certified WFR can NEVER give sugar/insulin to a patient, THIS IS AN IMMEDIATE EVACUATION SCENERIO!

Thanks for the sound advice SPAC3MAN. I'm diabetic, and wanted to share how I handle blood sugar in the backcountry. I go on several multi night trips a year and go in some very rough country so I can get to backcountry that isn't frequented. I face blood sugar issues the whole trip and have a lot of difficulty managing the condition however I have found a couple easy things to do to help. The first way I address the issue is with blood sugar testing, I test twice as much as usual. The frequent low blood sugar has caused me to eat so much sugar and carbs that I have been sick to my stomach, I was using quick sugars and juices and I would have to have such high quantities my stomach couldn't handle. Because of this problem I started looking into better options and I found GU, which is obvious to a lot of you but it was a new product to me. GU has been a backcountry lifesaver. It doesn't make me sick, has more consistent results, and I can feel the impact super fast. because of the blend of sugars it gets in fast and sustains for longer. I also carry GU Roctaine drink powder if needed.
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