sick little girl with thermometer laying in bed

7 Tips for Parents on Dealing with Sick Days for Diabetic Children

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When your child is sick, it’s hard to know what to do. No one wants to see their child ill, but when your child has type 1 diabetes, it’s especially important to take care of them properly when they’re under the weather.

Diabetic children can get sick just like any other child, but their illness can be more serious because of their diabetes.

It’s a good idea to be prepared for sick days because your child may go into Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), if you are not on top of their illness. It can take some preparation and forethought, but that’s why you are here in this post.

Here are 5 tips to make sure your little one gets the best possible care when they’re not feeling well.

little girl coughing at the doctor

1. Check Child’s Blood Glucose Often

Usually, when a child with diabetes is sick, their glucose levels increase. However, there have been instances where their glucose levels stay on the lower side.

You’re constantly worrying about your child’s blood sugar levels and whether or not they’re staying in range.

It’s hard to keep track of blood sugars when you’re constantly checking them, and it’s even harder to know what to do if they’re high or low.

With the Dexcom G6, you can read your child’s glucose levels every 5 minutes. However, if you do not have a Dexcom, then you will need to check with a glucose meter every 2 hours, even overnight.

Notify your child’s Endocrinologist, if you are having problems keeping down your child’s high blood sugars.

Or even if you are struggling in keeping your child’s blood sugars up. I have heard that some doctors suggest doing mini glucagon doses to raise them.

2. Test for Ketones

Even if your child’s blood sugar is normal, meaning between 80 mg/dL to 100mg/dL, it’s still important to check their ketones levels. Ketones can be a sign that your child is sick, even if their blood sugar is not high.

Notify your child’s doctor if he/she has ketones. Your doctor will instruct you on the next steps on what to do in flushing those ketones out. It usually entails in getting carby drinks/food into your child’s system, drinking water and dosing up to 2x the insulin.

Please check with your child’s diabetic care team for dosing quantities.

3. Vomiting

Diabetic children can easily become dehydrated, which can lead to serious health problems.

Vomiting is a common symptom of high glucose levels in diabetic children. It’s important to seek medical help if your child is vomiting frequently, especially if he/she cannot hold on to their liquids or foods.

Your child may need to be taken to the Emergency Room to get an IV with saline, Zofran to stop vomiting, and in case of stomach pain, some pain meds.

Sick Day Chart

Sick days just got a little easier to manage. With this handy chart, you can easily keep track of your diabetic child’s drink, food and medication intake. Stay on top of your game during sick days with this helpful tool.

4. Insulin Adjustments

Your child’s basal insulin dose and/or insulin to carb ratio may need to be modified.

If your child has high glucose levels, he/she will need extra insulin, especially if there are ketones present.

If your child has low glucose levels, your child still needs that basal insulin. Basal insulin prevents the development of ketones.

From my experience, I have had to decrease my daughter’s basal by 10%, 20%, and even more depending on what she is going through. Call your doctor and walk thru on the appropriate health care plan for your child.

Check with your child’s Endocrinologist, if you are uncertain about doses, especially if this is your first time dealing with an illness.

5. Medicine

Keep an eye on their temperature and make sure you have the right medication if needed. Some fever-reducing medication can increase your child’s blood glucose. Try to choose one that is sugar-free. If you are unable to find one, then just dose for the medicine.

6. Keep At Home

It’s important to keep on hand food and drinks your child likes that he/she can usually eat or drink when sick. This will help make them feel better faster!

Some of these items are:

  • Gatorade (regular and sugar-free)
  • Juices (regular and sugar-free)
  • Soda (regular and diet)
  • Soda Crackers
  • Jello (regular and sugar-free)
  • Soup
  • Cookies

7. Seek Medical Attention

If you notice any dramatic changes in your child’s symptoms, is very lethargic, please seek medical attention immediately.

It is important for your child to be treated as soon as possible so that their physical health does not worsen.

ill girl holding a mug covered with a blanket

As a parent of a diabetic child, it is important to be aware of the sick day rules and best practices as recommended by your child’s doctor. This will help you keep them safe and healthy while they are recovering from an illness. By following these tips, you can rest assured that you are doing everything possible to make sure your child stays on track with their diabetes management plan.

Download the Sick Day Chart here

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