Diabetic individuals considering a mountain journey need to understand the potential risks of the environmental extremes, extensive exercise, and dietary changes they may experience at high altitudes.
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, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the 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 (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 high altitude for business or pleasure.
"With the rising prevalence of diabetes, 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."