5 tips for drivers diagnosed with diabetes
A person diagnosed with diabetes can continue to drive a car, get behind the wheel and enjoy driving, but he should pay attention to certain details. Driving can be pleasant and relaxing, but sometimes even a short adventure behind the wheel for a diabetic can be stressful (especially if the person finds himself in the middle of a traffic jam). Stress affects the level of glucose in the blood. Follow the practical tips and doubts faced by all drivers diagnosed with diabetes – doctors say.
- Both experienced drivers and those with less experience should stop/pause every 2 hours. Stretch your legs and be sure to check your blood glucose level (it should not be above 5 mmol/L). Stock up on enough food and snacks (to restore energy after a tiring ride). Be sure to tell a loved one that you are traveling and call when you reach your destination.
- Retinopathy and driving – even if you are diagnosed with “diabetic retinopathy” and no longer have clear and sharp vision, seek the advice of an eye doctor. The ophthalmologist will state the assessment and advise you to continue driving the car (or a different diagnosis). Then be sure to wear dark glasses in strong sunlight (because the sun will not make it difficult for you to see). Make the frame large enough to cover the eyes and the area around the eyes (it is best with green, gray or brown glasses, because these colors are the most pleasant to look at). If your vision is impaired during night driving, you must visit an eye doctor again. That problem could be solved with new glasses.
- Hypoglycemia is always a risk – hypoglycemia is possible while driving, but it is not impossible to prevent hypoglycemia. There should be no cause for concern if you exercise, eat a healthy diet and keep your sugar levels under control. However, be sure to measure your blood sugar before a long drive. If the meter shows a value above 5 mmol/L, do not get behind the wheel. If you notice hypoglycemia while driving (sweating, dizziness, tremors and lack of concentration), stop the vehicle immediately. Have grape sugar candies, a sweet soft drink (eg Coca-Cola) or a few sugar cubes/candies/chocolate nearby. All these foods certainly raise blood sugar levels. Wait half an hour before getting behind the wheel, but first measure your blood sugar again.
- Always have a blood glucose meter, ketone measuring strips, insulin and/or other medications you use in diabetes therapy in your car. Always also keep some document (which in case of an emergency could indicate to people that you are a person with diabetes). Note down the addresses of health facilities (in the places you plan to visit) if you are traveling outside of your place of residence. Have another driver in the car with you if possible. It is recommended not to travel alone if possible. For traveling abroad, it is advisable to check travel insurance and coverage at the final destination in case of possible complications with diabetes).
- A person with diabetes can be a traffic participant without any problems like all other drivers (if he regularly controls his blood sugar and does not allow diabetes to take control of that person). People who plan to become drivers and take the driving test (and have diabetes) should state the diagnosis during the medical examination. People with diabetes should undergo a medical examination at least once every 5 years to renew their driver’s license.