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Sick-Day Guidelines for People With Diabetes - Topic Overview

When to call your doctor

Minor illnesses in people with diabetes—especially children with type 1 diabetes—can lead to very high blood sugar levels and possible emergencies. When children are sick, watch them closely for signs that they need immediate medical attention. Call 911 or other emergency services if you or your child has:

  • Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), such as abdominal (belly) pain, vomiting, rapid breathing, fruity-smelling breath, or severe drowsiness.
  • Symptoms of dehydration, such as a dry mouth and very yellow or dark urine. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children and may be caused by vomiting and diarrhea.
  • A high blood sugar level that continues.

It may not be necessary to call your doctor every time you or your child with diabetes has a mild illness, such as a cold. But it is a good idea to call for advice when you are sick and:

  • You have a blood sugar level that stays higher than the level the doctor has set for you, for example, 240 mg/dL for two or more readings.
  • You have moderate or large amounts of ketones in the urine or a high level of blood ketones (for example, more than 0.6 mmol/L).
  • You still have a fever and are not feeling better after a few days.
  • You are vomiting or having diarrhea for more than 6 hours.

When you are sick, write down the medicines you have been taking and whether you have changed the dosage of your diabetes medicines based on your sick-day plan. Also note changes in your body temperature, weight, blood sugar, and ketone levels. Have this information with you when you talk to your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 15, 2013
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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