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Diabetes in Children: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, occurs when the sugar (glucose) level in the blood drops below what the body needs to function normally.

Key points

  • Not all oral medicines for diabetes cause low blood sugar. Usually, these medicines cause blood sugar to drop low enough to cause only mild symptoms, such as sweating, shakiness, and hunger. If your child eats something that contains sugar, his or her blood sugar level will rise. But if your child doesn't eat something that contains sugar, his or her blood sugar may continue to drop to a very low level. Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia can include disorientation, confusion, combativeness, and loss of consciousness.
  • Taking too many doses of oral medicine for diabetes in one day, not eating enough food, or doing strenuous exercise can cause your child's blood sugar level to drop below the target range. Children who take insulin are also at risk for low blood sugar. If your child's blood sugar drops very low, he or she could go into a coma and possibly die.
  • To prevent serious problems from low blood sugar:
    • Test your child's blood sugar often. Or have your child test his or her own blood sugar.
    • Be alert to the early signs of low blood sugar, such as sweating, shakiness, hunger, blurred vision, and dizziness.
    • Keep some hard candy, raisins, or other quick sugar foods with your child at all times. Have your child eat some at the first sign of low blood sugar.
    • Teach your child's caregivers, teachers, and coaches what to do if your child has low blood sugar.

More information about children with diabetes can be found in these topics:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes in Children
  • Diabetes-Related High and Low Blood Sugar Levels
  • Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Up Next in This Action Set:
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
Last Revised July 16, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 16, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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