How to Recognize Highs and Lows in Children with Diabetes

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As if it wasn’t bad enough to find out your child had diabetes and would have to constantly monitor and treat the condition for the rest of his or her life, now you have to deal with the fact that your child may not be able to feel when he or she is having a high or low. And if they can, they may not be able to communicate it to you very well.

Watch out for the symptoms of lows and highs below, including any complaints your child may have about how they feel, so that you can catch a blood sugar problem before it spirals out of control.

Symptoms of a Low

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Pale skin color, possibly cold or sweaty
  • Moodiness or sleepiness
  • Unsteadiness when walking
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Feeling hungry
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Headache
  • Feeling weak or dizzy
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling confused

Symptoms of a High

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased water intake
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain

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While it may at times be difficult to discern whether your kid is actually sick or whether he or she is just being a kid and having regular kid problems, watching out for these signs and asking your child how they feel when you suspect they may be having a high or low could help you catch an issue before it spirals out of control.

A few preventive tips might also help your child stay away from highs and lows. Make sure they don’t skip meals, over exert themselves, take too much insulin (or time it improperly), or take a hot bath or shower right after a shot of insulin to prevent lows. To avoid highs, don’t allow your child to eat too many carbs at a time or skip insulin. Also ensure that your child is getting enough exercise and take general precautions against illnesses. Stick to your diabetes management plan, but ask your doctor about potential changes if your plan doesn’t seem to be working consistently for your child.

Checking your blood sugar is never fun, but praising your child for doing it themselves may make it easier for them to stick with it. Watch this video of five-year-old Legacy checking his blood sugar!

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Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?