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Diabetes in Children: Preventing High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar, also called hyperglycemia, occurs when the sugar (glucose) level in the blood rises above normal. For a person who has diabetes, high blood sugar may be caused by missed diabetes medicine or insulin injection, eating too much, skipping physical activity, or illness or stress. The rapid growth during the teen years can also make it harder to keep your child's blood sugar levels within a target range.

Unlike low blood sugar, high blood sugar usually develops slowly over a period of hours or days. But it can also develop quickly (in just a few hours) if you eat a large meal or miss an insulin dose. Blood sugar levels just 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. Over time, high blood sugar damages the eyes, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves. If your child's blood sugar continues to rise, his or her kidneys will increase the amount of urine produced and your child can become dehydrated. If your child becomes severely dehydrated, he or she can go into a coma and possibly die.

Unless you or your child fails to notice the symptoms, you usually have time to treat high blood sugar so that it doesn't become an emergency situation. Three steps can help you prevent high blood sugar problems:

  • Test your child's blood sugar often, especially during illnesses or when he or she is not following a normal routine. A child may not have symptoms of high blood sugar, which are fatigue and increased thirst and urination.
  • Notify the doctor if your child has frequent high blood sugar levels or the blood sugar level is consistently staying above the target range. The medicine or insulin dosage may need to be adjusted or changed.
  • Encourage your child to drink extra water or noncaffeinated, sugar-free drinks to prevent dehydration.

what.gif What are high blood sugar emergencies?
why.gif Why should high blood sugar be prevented?
how.gif How can you prevent high blood sugar?
where.gif Where to go from here

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

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ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerStephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
Last RevisedAugust 1, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 01, 2012
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 or 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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