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Does My Child Have Blood Sugar Problems?

Medically Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on April 04, 2021

Most of us don't check our kid's blood sugar. So, chances are you don't know if it's healthy. Still, there may be clues that your child's levels are out of whack, and you may want to give your pediatrician a call.

Signs of High Blood Sugar

If your youngster just had an ice cream sundae, you could probably guess that their blood sugar is high. You might be right. But if they're healthy, their levels will quickly get back to normal. So that kind of spike isn't really a problem.

If their blood sugar levels stay up no matter what they have to eat, that's cause for concern. It could signal diabetes.

Tip-offs that your child's blood sugar level may be too high include:

Constant trips to the bathroom: If it seems like they have to pee all the time, it might be because their body is trying to flush out extra glucose.

Extreme thirst: If your youngster is peeing a lot, they're losing a lot of fluids. They may try to get them back by drinking more than usual.

Weight loss despite a big appetite: If your child is having trouble using glucose the right way, their body may start breaking down muscle and fat for energy.

Feeling tired, moody, or irritable: A tyke that's too tired to play could literally be lacking energy, since their body isn't getting the fuel it needs.

Vision problems: High blood sugar can pull fluid from the eye, making it hard to focus.

Yeast infectionsYeast thrives on sugar, which may lead to infections in girls and diaper rashes in babies.

Signs of Low Blood Sugar

You might assume that lower blood sugar is better than high. That's true, but only up to a certain point: If blood sugar goes too low, it means your child won't have enough fuel. If it gets really low (your doctor may call it hypoglycemia), your child could have a seizure or even develop brain damage.

A child who doesn't have diabetes might have an episode of hypoglycemia because they skipped lunch before soccer practice. It's also possible that a medicine your child takes raises their chances of having low blood sugar. They also could have been born with a condition that affects their metabolism. In any case, unless the cause is clear-cut (like not eating before being active), you should have your child's pediatrician investigate.

If your child has low blood sugar, you may notice:

  • Pale or gray skin
  • Moodiness
  • Clumsiness
  • Confusion

Your child might tell you that they:

  • Feels shaky or dizzy
  • Gets headaches
  • Struggles to see clearly
  • Sweats even when they're not active
  • Is hungry a lot

The skin around their mouth might also tingle, and it might feel like their heart is racing.

Severe hypoglycemia can make your child pass out. If that, or a seizure, happens, call for medical help right away.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Boston Children's Hospital: "Hypoglycemia and Low Blood Sugar Symptoms and Causes."

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar."

KidsHealth.org (Nemours): "Hyperglycemia and Diabetic Ketoacidosis," "Signs That Blood Sugar Levels Are Low."

Mayo Clinic: "Type 1 Diabetes in Children."

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