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If you are the parent of a type 1 diabetic child, then you know how important it is to keep their blood glucose levels under control. And if your child’s glucose levels often rise too high, then this can be difficult to do.
It’s hard to always know what to do when your child has high blood sugar levels. Sometimes it may happen after they eat too many sweets or have consumed too many carbs.
Other times, the high levels can be caused by their fast or long-acting insulin wearing off sooner than expected, or when the diabetic child is getting sick.
When you’re faced with such situations, you may wonder if there are any other options that will help manage their glucose levels better and keep them safe from hypoglycemia.
In this blog post, we will discuss symptoms of high blood sugar in children and what to do when your child’s blood sugar is high.
What is considered a high blood sugar level in a child?
In a child, high blood sugar levels can be between 200-300 mg/dL. When normal glucose levels in a child are between 70-110 mg/dL.
High blood sugar level symptoms vary and depend on how quickly the sugars rise to a very high level.
If you notice any of these symptoms it’s important to take your child to the doctor right away (if non-diagnosed) as this can lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).
Symptoms of High Blood Sugars
If your child has these symptoms, and your child has been newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, it’s best to consult your child’s Endocrinologist/diabetes care team or take them into emergency care immediately, if the child that is experiencing these symptoms is a non-diabetic child, not formally diagnosed.
- Increased urination (polyuria)
- Increased thirst (polydipsia)
- Fruity breath odor
- Blurred vision
- Weight Loss
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Stomach aches
- Trouble breathing
High glucose levels can also be caused by other illnesses as well, so you should always check with a medical professional before doing anything too drastic.
However, if left untreated this condition will eventually lead to diabetic ketoacidosis which can cause permanent damage to some parts of the body like the kidneys and retinae (the eye).
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body does not any have sugar to fuel the body cells, so it will use fat for energy instead. This is because, without insulin (which is a hormone), the blood can not provide energy to the body’s cells.
When the body uses fat, it creates chemicals called ketones. These ketones get into a person’s blood and urine and make the diabetic person very sick, which at times needs hospitalization. DKA is a very serious problem for people with diabetes. But it can be prevented and treated.
How Is DKA Treated?
For DKA treatment, you must go to the doctor or hospital right away. Your child will need insulin and fluids through an IV. He/she might be admitted for a couple of days depending on the assessments the doctors make while your child is at the hospital.
Why Do High Glucose Levels Occur?
One of the main reasons for high glucose levels is too much sugar and carbohydrates in your child’s diet.
High glucose levels are the deficiency of insulin in your child’s body. Since their pancreas does not create any insulin at all and they rely entirely on external sources of it to survive, from multiple daily injections or an insulin pump.
It can also be caused by high-intensity physical activity, infection, illness, stress, excitement, growth spurts, and even heat.
How To Treat Your Child’s High Glucose Levels
Here are some tips to help you deal with your child’s high glucose levels:
- Give insulin to bring the sugar levels down to normal
- Give water and/or plenty of low-carb fluids to avoid dehydration (avoid sugary drinks, like 100% pure juice and sodas)
- Monitor his/her sugar levels for 2-3 hours, with their continuous glucose monitor or blood glucose meter. This is to make sure he/she does not go into DKA.
- If there are no ketones, I usually take my child for a walk or have her jump on her bed to lower glucose levels.
- Have your child take a shower after an insulin bolus. Some parents have indicated that this helps lower glucose levels faster. I have seen some results doing this.
Managing high glucose levels on a type 1 diabetic child is no easy task. The key to success, as with most things in life, is preparation and prevention.
Having proper diabetes management and an appropriate meal plan for your child, can help maintain better glucose control. Make a diabetes treatment plan with your child’s diabetes care team. They can guide you towards a nutritionist in order to achieve this.
There are some general guidelines that can help you make sure your little one stays healthy and happy when their sugar level spikes unexpectedly.
Here are some recommendations for managing high glucose levels on a type 1 diabetic child:
- Give insulin before food or drink
- Give water instead of juice or soda
- Monitor glucose levels every 2 hours during periods of illness or stress (especially when taking a big school test) which may cause hyperglycemia without symptoms
- Low carb meals and snacks such as cheese sticks, vegetables dipped in hummus, pretzels, graham crackers
- Take your child for a walk or have him/her jump on the bed to lower glucose levels
Since children and adolescents (some of them) can’t look after themselves, parents have to regularly check their blood sugar levels, in order to take action accordingly.