Discusses high blood sugar (also called hyperglycemia) in children with diabetes. Covers symptoms. Offers tips on preventing high blood sugar emergencies. Covers when to seek emergency care.
Diabetes in Children: Preventing High Blood Sugar
sugar occurs when the sugar (glucose) level in the
blood rises above normal. It is also called hyperglycemia. If your child has
diabetes, high blood sugar may be caused by missing a dose of
diabetes medicine or insulin. It may also be caused by eating too much, skipping exercise, or being ill or stressed. Fast growth during the teen years can also
make it harder to keep your child's blood sugar levels in his or her target
blood sugar, high blood sugar usually happens slowly over hours or
days. But it can also happen quickly (in just a few hours) if your child eats a large
meal or misses an insulin dose.
Blood sugar levels above the target range may
make a person feel tired and thirsty. If your child's blood sugar level stays
higher than normal, his or her body will adjust to that level. If
your child's blood sugar keeps rising, the kidneys will make more urine and your child can get dehydrated. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening. Over time, high
blood sugar can damage the eyes, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves.
Watch for symptoms of high blood sugar. Symptoms include feeling very tired or thirsty and urinating more often than usual. As long as you or your child notices the symptoms, you
will probably have time to treat high blood sugar so that it doesn't become an
emergency. Three steps can help you prevent high blood sugar
Test your child's blood sugar often, especially
if your child is sick or when he or she is not following a normal routine. A child
may not have symptoms of high blood sugar. Testing lets you see when your child's blood
sugar is above his or her target range, even if your child doesn't have symptoms.
Call the doctor if your child often has high blood sugar levels or if the blood sugar level is often staying above
his or her target range. The medicine or insulin dosage may need to be adjusted or
Encourage your child to drink extra water or
drinks that don't have caffeine or sugar. Getting more fluids can help prevent dehydration.
How can you prevent high blood sugar?
Treat infections early
Infections that aren't treated, such as urinary tract infections and skin infections, can raise your child's risk
of a high blood sugar emergency.
symptoms of high blood sugar. Post them in a place
where you and your child can see them often, such as on your refrigerator door.
Add any symptoms your child has had that are not on the list. Make sure other
people know the symptoms. Teach them what to do in an emergency. Symptoms of high blood sugar include feeling very thirsty, feeling very tired, and urinating more than usual.
child's blood sugar at home often, especially when your child is sick or not
following his or her normal routine. Testing your child's blood sugar at home
will help you know when it is high, even if your child doesn't notice
Teach others involved in your child's care how to check
blood sugar. Keep instructions for using the blood sugar meter with the meter. That way someone else could test your child's blood sugar if needed.
your child wear medical identification at all times. One example is a
medical alert bracelet. This is very important in case your child
is too sick or injured to speak.
Make a plan. Usually people who take insulin need to
take extra fast-acting insulin when their blood sugar levels are high. Talk
with your child's doctor about how much your child needs to take. This depends on
his or her blood sugar level (sliding scale).
Give your child's
medicines as prescribed. Don't skip the medicines for diabetes or insulin
shots without first talking with your doctor.
Treat high blood sugar early
The best way to
prevent high blood sugar emergencies is to treat high blood sugar as soon as
your child has symptoms or when his or her blood sugar is well above
the target range (for example, 200 mg/dL or higher).
Keep a record. Write down your child's
symptoms and how you treated them. And take the record with you when you see
your child's doctor. Use a
blood sugar record(What is a PDF document?).
Let your child's doctor know if your child is having high blood
sugar problems. The medicine for diabetes may need to be adjusted or
changed. If your child takes insulin, the dose may need to be
Offer plenty of liquids
If your child's blood
sugar levels are above his or her target range, offer extra liquids. This helps to replace the
fluids lost through the kidneys. Water and sugar-free drinks are best. Avoid
caffeinated drinks, regular soda pop, fruit juice, and other liquids that
have a lot of sugar.
Primary Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.