If you are travelling with a pituitary conditions and/or specific medication you may have some practical questions. We can advise about these concerns. If you have additional questions our information and support helpline volunteers should be able to assist.
If you are going on holiday abroad you should ask your GP or endocrinologist for a letter about your medication and your doses prescribed. This letter will be helpful should you become unwell and have to see a doctor. It is suggested that you have a 100mg hydrocortisone injection kit whilst you are travelling abroad if you usually require this, in case of emergency. All of your medication should be labelled with your name and kept with you at all times during your journey, as part of your hand luggage.
It’s a good idea to keep a written record of any medical conditions affecting you and a list of all the medications you are taking (both proper and trade names). Most importantly, ask your GP or consultant to write a letter describing your condition and the treatments you are taking. You might also find it useful to carry a repeat prescription script with you. Another good idea, complete and carry the Pituitary Foundation’s Patient Care Card (for a copy, contact us.
We have some hydrocortisone emergency cards translated into different languages that are available to purchase in our shop. The adrenals.eu organisation also have a range of different translated hydrocortisone cards for adults and children.
Taking medicines out of the UK
If you want to take any sort of medicine with you -either prescribed or bought from a pharmacist -find out if there are any restrictions on taking it in and out of the UK or the country you are visiting. This is particularly important if you take growth hormone (GH). Ask the relevant Embassy or High Commission or telephone the Home Office for advice (0207 035 4848).
Always carry medicines in a correctly labelled container, as issued by the pharmacist. The letter from your doctor, repeat prescription script and personal health record card giving details of the drug prescribed will help you in case you need it to get you through Customs. The government website has information on bringing prescribed drugs back into the UK.
Security at airports
Needles and syringes will be confiscated if you do not have documentary proof of your medical need to carry them. At check-in and in security you will be asked if you are carrying anything sharp. If you have to carry an emergency injection kit with you then you will need to disclose this. It’s worth contacting the airline prior to your departure to understand their specific procedures. We recommend using the letter from your GP or a repeat prescription to prove that you need to carry these. Be prepared to show your letter or other documentation -carry it in your handbag or wallet for easy access.You may wish to wear a medication identification tag or bracelet which you can show to airline or airport security staff to ease your route through check-in and security.
Travelling between time zones
Jet lag can be very hard for the pituitary traveller! This could be made worse if you are travelling between time zones and you do not have a proper plan to reconfigure your medication timetable. It is a good idea to consult your GP or Endocrinologist for advice on drawing up a timetable of when medication should be taken.
It’s important to get adequate insurance cover before you travel. You’ll need to find insurance that covers pre-existing conditions. Please see our Travel Insurance page to see a full list of companies’ others have used.
Medications that need to be kept cool
If you are to travel to an area where your emergency injection kit may be subject to sustained temperatures exceeding 25°C, then it should be placed in a small cool bag. If you have medications that need to be refrigerated, the following are suggestions on how to keep medications cool during travel:
- Purchase or borrow a small cool bag with two freezer blocks.
- Before you travel, call your accommodation and ask if they have refrigerators in the rooms or, if not, if one can be hired for your room. If they do not have refrigerators, ask if they have a freezer where they can place your freezer blocks on a rota in order that you can keep your cool bag cool.
- During travel, place your medication into a cool bag with both frozen blocks -the blocks should keep cool for around 12 hours.
- If you need to use the hotel’s freezer, on arrival, give them one block labelled with your name. Twelve hours later swap the blocks to ensure you continually have a frozen block to use both day and night in the cool bag.
- For dire emergency, for example, there is no freezer or refrigerator available, wrap the medication in a cold wet flannel and keep in shade. This option is not recommended for the long term.
- For long haul flights, you can request dry ice packs from cabin crew (they can refuse this request). Dry ice packs will quickly refreeze your ice blocks. It is important to be very careful while handling these packs.
- Cabin crews may also refrigerate your medications for you on the aircraft (again, they can refuse this request). Be sure it is properly labelled and be certain to retrieve your medications before leaving the plane!
- If you ask at your local chemist, they may loan you a 24-hour freeze box free-of-charge. Be aware, they may expect you to return it. These 24-hour freeze boxes are very bulky and you will need to carry it with you.
- If you are travelling with a Growth Hormone Pen, Hydrocortisone Injection or any form of injection, make sure to keep them cool and stored somewhere safe. FRIO Cooling Wallets were recommended to us by you! They are an effective way of storing your temperature sensitive medication.
Other suggestions for travel
- Take an extra two weeks supply of medication.This is particularly important for those on Hydrocortisone. Or have two supplies of medications: one you carry in your hand luggage; another that can be checked into the airplane’s hold. This will ensure you have enough medication even if your hand luggage is mislaid or your luggage is lost.
- Regardless of your method of travel (air, train, car) you may wish to bring drinks and snacks with you as often you can’t control when you’ll find refreshments.
- Find out beforehand if you need to have a way to collect sharps during your travel for disposal when you arrive home. You may need to arrange travel sharps containers or bags. Talk to your local clinic, chemist or council before you travel.
- Be sure to have enough medication on return home -you may be prepared for while you are away but you don’t want to run out when you get home!
- Upon return travel, if you are involuntarily removed from a flight you may wish to explain to airline staff that you use life-critical medications and need to return as soon as possible if your stocks are low. They will generally be very co-operative about getting you back on your scheduled flight.
- UK Airport guides run a network of 22 UK airport guides, one of which, their Heathrow Airport Guide has recently had a medical page added to the site with a great range of different medical advice ideas when travelling though the airport.
- In case of an emergency, such as an injury or unconsciousness, take a translated version of your medical alert instructions. Particularly in cases where you are partaking in activities or guided tours, hand a translated version to your instructor or guide.
- When travelling on a long haul flight, set your clock to UK time to keep on top of your medication during the flight.
- To avoid delays at baggage checks, try to keep all of your necessary tablets and pills in its original packaging. Be sure to also carry your hospital note explaining what it is you are carrying. It might be a good idea to bring along a translated copy of your note for your your flight home!