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Diabetes and Your Child: High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) occurs when there is too much glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Blood sugar that is often high increases the risk of long-term complications, so try to prevent it. And treat it quickly when it happens. High blood sugar can result from the following:

  • Taking too little insulin or diabetes medication

  • Using insulin that’s not stored properly or that’s past the expiration date

  • Eating too much food at once

  • Being sick

  • Being less active than usual

  • Being under stress

  • A rebound in response to low blood sugar

  • Hormonal changes during puberty

How to Recognize High Blood Sugar

Girl in bed with diabetes kit. Woman bringing girl glass of juice.

Your child may be thirsty and need to urinate often. Severe high blood sugar may cause nausea, blurry vision, weakness, or dizziness. Encourage your child to learn to recognize the symptoms of high blood sugar and tell you about them right away. But keep in mind that sometimes there are no symptoms.

How to Treat High Blood Sugar

  • Check your child’s blood sugar.

  • If blood sugar is over your child’s target range, give him or her water or sugar-free and caffeine-free drinks.

  • If blood sugar is over 240, check your child’s blood or urine for ketones.

  • If your child’s blood sugar stays over 240 or your child has ketones, call the doctor.

  • Follow the plan given to you by your child’s health care providers, which may include giving extra insulin.

If Your Child Has Ketones

A moderate to high level of ketones in your child’s blood or urine is a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Follow your health care team’s guidelines for giving additional insulin and notifying their office. Check blood sugar often and don’t let your child exercise until ketones are back to normal. Left untreated, DKA may require hospitalization.

Sick Days

When your child is ill, his or her blood sugar may be higher than usual. This may be true even if he or she is not eating as much as usual. To handle this, you will develop a sick-day plan with your child’s health care provider. This plan will probably involve more monitoring and extra insulin. On sick days, keep in close contact with your child’s healthcare providers.

How to Prevent High Blood Sugar

Make sure that:

  • Your child takes insulin on time and in the right amount.

  • Your child’s meals and snacks are spread throughout the day.

  • You follow the sick-day plan during an illness.

  • Insulin is stored properly so that it doesn’t spoil.


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