High Blood Sugar Symptoms
A Constant Challenge

Juvenile diabetes is all about high blood sugar symptoms. You were given a diagnosis of this disease because you were experiencing these symptoms to the extreme!

Check out the signs of diabetes if you have not yet gotten a diagnosis.

But if you know you're living with juvenile diabetes, your challenge everyday is to keep your blood sugar levels in your target range.

This page will cover...

  • the symptoms of high blood sugar,
  • what might cause high blood glucose,
  • how to lower blood sugar levels,and
  • when to give an insulin correction.

High blood sugar symptoms

Your blood sugars are considered high if they test above 180 mg/dL (10+mmol/L).

The medical term for this condition is hyperglycemia.

Usually your body will start to show signs of high blood sugar as you approach this level. Some people don't feel their symptoms until they're considerably higher than this.

To review high blood sugar symptoms...these are the most common

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Feeling tired
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating

The earlier you realize you're experiencing any of these symptoms, the sooner you can take steps to stop your blood sugar levels from rising.

You might want to document your specific symptoms. This information is good to share with your doctor. He/she may offer some ideas to help you better manage your highs.

If your child has the disease, I'd suggest you help your child recognize when he's experiencing high blood sugar symptoms. This is a lifelong disease. Ultimately, you want your child to take responsibility for his/her own care.

Also it's a good idea to share these symptoms with your child's caregivers and teachers...anyone who spends time with your child. The more they understand, the more they can offer help and support.

We have special circumstances with my grandson Jake because he can't communicate what he feels. Amy, his mom, has identified his behaviors and reactions when he has a high blood sugar level.

Jake gets agitated and can't sit still. He's very thirsty and constantly signs for a drink. It's a cue for us to do a blood sugar test.

Causes of high blood sugar

Even though you may be conscientious about managing your juvenile diabetes, chances are you'll still experience high blood sugar symptoms.

There are a variety of things that can cause you to have high blood sugar levels.

  • Food

Carbohydrates in the food you eat turn to sugar to be used as energy in your cells.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you need insulin in order for the sugar to get into your cells.

There are several ways food can trigger high blood sugar symptoms.

1. You may be eating without delivering any insulin.

It's easy to pop something in your mouth and think it isn't significant. But, depending on what it is, even a small amount can start the rise.

Something high in sugar like candy can shoot blood sugars up quickly. Foods with high carb counts like bread can also make a sudden change.

Parties can be a nightmare! It's much harder to keep track of what and how much you eat when you're grazing the buffet table!

You might want to make up one plate of food. Then you can better track what you eat. And don't forget to include what you drink!

Birthday parties for kids are loaded with empty sweets! Candy, cookies, cake and ice cream! Yikes!

You may want to arm your child with snacks that aren't so sugary. But you don't have to tell your child they can't have any of the special treats!

A piece of cake and some ice cream won't hurt once in a while. But it's necessary to monitor their blood sugar closely to correct the effects of the treats.

2. You may not be counting your carbohydrates correctly!

You may not be giving yourself enough insulin to balance out the carbohydrates in your meals or snacks.

Carb counting becomes a necessity for the juvenile diabetic. You learn to read labels and, over time, you'll remember the counts for favorite foods.

And, don't forget the serving size. Is the carb count given for a half cup or a cup? Does the count mean for one or two pieces of bread? It can make a huge difference in the number of carbs!

We carry a small book that lists carbohydrate information. There are many different books on the market. (You can probably get one from your diabetes doctor. Be sure to ask!) Most foods, including specific brands, and many menu items at popular restaurants are covered.

Also we bookmark CalorieKing.com on our computer. Amy even has a mobile version on her cell phone. The wonder of modern technology!

Careful carb counting is an important skill for the diabetic!

3. You may need to make an adjustment to your insulin treatment program.

This can be somewhat tricky. We know that the carbohydrates in food will cause your blood sugar to rise for a couple of hours after a meal. You take insulin to counter the effects of your food.

But, you may find that your blood sugars remain high well after you've eaten. If this becomes a pattern over several days, you should talk to your diabetes doctor. It might mean you need to make a change to the number of carbs you eat per unit of insulin you take.

Please only make a change when you've consulted your doc's advice. Too much insulin can cause your blood sugars to rapidly drop creating dangerous low blood sugar symptoms .

Obviously, being diabetic means you must constantly be aware of what you eat. Eating a well rounded diet is key for anyone to stay healthy.

It's critical if you have type 1 diabetes!

  • Illness or infection

When you're sick or fighting off some kind of infection, your blood sugar levels will usually rise.

There are so many reasons why you are sick. You may have a fever. You may have diarrhea or be vomiting. You may be nauseous and not wanting to eat. Check out diabetes and flu.

Each of these situations require a different type of care. Some may require medication.

During an illness is a good time to use your diabetes hotline.

This service will hook you up with a diabetes professional. They'll know the right questions to ask. They'll guide you through the steps to get your high blood sugar under control when you're sick.

You're feeling bad enough! You want to manage your high blood sugar symptoms so they don't add to your misery!

Take advantage of this great resource! You can get this phone number from your doctor.

  • Stress

Minute-to-minute we can be faced with stressful situations in our lives. Some of these situations can be very brief and others may be longer term. If you're going through a stressful period in your life, there's a good chance you may be experiencing high blood sugar symptoms.

Stress releases hormones. These hormones can cause you blood sugar levels to go up.

Now you can be dealing with a double whammy! Both stress and high blood sugar can make you more irritable and less able to focus.

You'll need to deal with your high blood symptoms when they occur. Long term it's best to find ways to manage your stress. Not just because you have diabetes, but, for your overall health.

Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, massage, relaxing baths and exercise are all ways that can help you manage stress.

We all experience stress in our lives. For the diabetic, it can cause high blood sugar symptoms that can lead to complications over time. Find a technique that works for you!

  • Growing up and getting older

Over your lifetime, the natural course of developing and growing older may require you to make changes to your insulin therapy.

Growth spurts usually are associated with a bigger appetite and a rapidly changing body. This can possibly mean your insulin program isn't enough to keep up with the changes. You may find yourself experiencing high blood sugar symptoms more often.

We noticed Jake's blood sugar levels jumping really high (and sometimes low) about the time he turned 13 years old.

The doctor said Jake's hormones were starting to kick in due to puberty. We saw many more erratic readings in his blood sugars.

Amy worked with his diabetes team to make small adjustments in the amount of insulin he received until his levels were more stable. The doc told us we could expect to see some strange swings in his readings because of his hormones.

This can be a difficult time for teens with juvenile diabetes. They can feel different than their friends at a time when all they want to do is fit in! And their high blood sugar symptoms can be crazier than ever!

In the best of times, it can be difficult to parent a teen. I encourage you to tread lightly and seek support from diabetes support groups and parents of other diabetic teens.

In fact, it would be great for your teen to get involved with other teens with juvenile diabetes. They can share their concerns and learn from each other.

Women going through menopause often experience an impact on their blood sugar levels. Those pesky hormones are changing again! It probably shouldn't be a surprise you see blood sugar changes too.

The whole point is that high blood sugar symptoms are a fact of life for the juvenile diabetic. Understanding what your symptoms are and what might be causing them will help you better keep them under control.

How to lower blood sugar levels

Once you know your blood sugar level is high, you need to take steps to bring it down into your target range. It usually takes longer for your blood sugar to come down than it does for it to go up.

It's important you don't overreact!

Always do a blood sugar test before taking any action.

The most common way to resolve your high blood sugar symptoms is to give yourself a correction. A correction is an additional dose of insulin. This dose is not associated with a meal or routine evening injections.

A correction is exactly what it says. The additional insulin corrects the high blood sugar level and brings it into your normal target range.

Make sure you wait at least a couple of hours after a meal before you deliver a correction. Your blood sugar will always go up after you eat.

You want to wait for any insulin you delivered for your meal to run its course. That takes 2 – 3 hours.

If you take insulin too soon after a meal injection, you may cause your blood sugar to drop too much.

Check your levels about 30 minutes after you give a correction. You're looking to make sure your levels are going down. It doesn't hurt to check your blood sugar again in 30 minute intervals to make sure your correction is doing its job.

When should you give a correction?

If you suspect you have high blood sugar symptoms, your first step is to test your level with your diabetes testing supplies.

How to lower blood sugar levels is dependent on your results.

Readings between 140 and 200 mg/dL (7.5-10 mmol/L)

When Jake's levels are between 140 and 200 mg/dL (7.5-10 mmol/L), we offer him plenty of water to drink. Fluids will help bring high blood sugars down.

We also try to get him involved in some moderate physical activity. With his limited mobility, this can be a little more difficult. But we try to get him on his feet for a short walk or we dance to some fun music.

We check his blood sugar every 30 minutes until we're satisfied his levels have come down and are stable. We want to be sure he's no longer experiencing high blood sugar symptoms.

Moderately high levels over 200 mg/dL (>11 mmol/L)

If your levels are moderately high, the steps are a little different. For Jake, moderately high is over 200 mg/dL (>11 mmol/L).

  • Drink water.
  • Do not exercise strenuously!
  • Give an insulin correction.
  • Check blood sugar levels every 30 minutes until stable.

Very High Levels over 280 ml/dL (>15 mmol/L)

There's one more step if your levels are extremely high, say over 280 ml/dL (>15 mmol/L).

If ketones are high, contact your doctor. High ketone levels can lead to a serious condition called diabetes ketoacidosis.

(The blood sugar levels given in the above steps may vary somewhat according to your doctor.)

As I mentioned before, talk to your doctor if you are frequently having high blood sugars. You may need changes to your carbohydrate to insulin ratios. Careful blood sugar management can help prevent future side effects of diabetes.

Reviewing your blood sugar testing results and A1c score with your doctor will reveal if your insulin therapy needs to be adjusted.

Awareness is key to managing your juvenile diabetes. The sooner you recognize your high blood sugar symptoms, the quicker you can take action to get back into your target range.

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