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Diabetes: Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Sugar

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Facts about low blood sugar and high blood sugar:

  • If your child does not have diabetes, his/her body will keep the blood sugar level steady. When your child eats or exercises, the blood sugar will stay at a steady level because insulin is working properly.
  • If your child has diabetes, "good control" means keeping his/her blood sugar level as close as possible to the ideal range.
  • Problems can result from too high (high blood sugar) or too low (low blood sugar) blood sugar levels.
  • If high blood sugar becomes severe, it is called Diabetes Ketoacidosis (DKA).

How can you tell which reaction is taking place?

 Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia) 

High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

  • Too much insulin
  • Too little food
  • Too much exercise without extra food
  • Skipping meals
  • Not eating on time
  • Illness
  • Too little insulin or forgetting to take insulin
  • Too much food
  • Infection, ililness, fever
  • Emotional stress
  • Rapid
  • If your child receives fast-acting insulin, Humalog or Novolog, low blood sugar may occur 1/2-2 hours after dose is given.
  • If your child receives regular insluin (clear): low blood sugar may occur 1-3 hours after dose is given
  • If you child receives NPH or 70/30 (cloudy): low blood sugar may have a slower onset; 6-8 hours after dose is given
  • Slow, hours to days


(How your child may feel or act)

  • Dizzy, shaky
  • Hungry
  • Pale, sweaty
  • Headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor balance
  • Seeing double (two of everything)
  • Tired, weak
  • Use one of these fast-acting sugars (15 gram fast-acting carbohydrate) followed by a snack or meal: - Sugar cubes (2) - Orange juice ( ½ cup) - Regular soft drink ( 1cup) - Cake decorating gel ( ½ small tube) - Raisins (handful)
  • If your child does not feel better in 15 minutes, treat again
  • If severe, give Glucagon and call 911
  • Take insulin, if omitted
  • Test your child’s blood/urine often for sugar and ketones
  • Call your child’s doctor or nurse educator


If you are unsure if your child has low blood sugar or high blood sugar, test his/her blood sugar. If unable to test, treat as low blood sugar.

 Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia) 

High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

  • DO NOT skip meals
  • Avoid sudden changes in your child’s insulin, exercise, and food intake
  • Before extra exercise, give your child slow-acting carbohydrates such as cheese and crackers, ½ sandwich, or fruit
  • Carry some form of fast-acting sugar (like a cake decorating gel) with you
  • If reactions are frequent, discuss a change of insulin dose with your child’s doctor
  • Teach friends and family what to look for and how to treat
  • Wear identification (Medic-Alert bracelet or necklace)
  • Have regular check-ups
  • Always give your child’s insulin as directed • Avoid sudden changes in your child’s insulin, exercise, and food intake
  • Test your child’s blood sugar and keep a record
  • When ketones test positive, increase the amount of liquids your child drinks and test his/her urine with each void until ketones are negative.
  • Call your child’s doctor or nurse educator if: - ketones test medium or large - blood sugars are slowly getting higher
  • Wear identification (Medic-Alert bracelet or necklace) 
  • Have regular check-ups

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 07/2008

(757) 668-7000