When you have diabetes, you may have high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) from time to time. A cold, the flu, or other sudden illness can cause high blood sugar levels.
It is important to learn how to recognize and manage high and low blood sugar levels. This can help you avoid diabetic ketoacidosis or dehydration from high blood sugar levels or loss of consciousness from severe low blood sugar levels. Most blood sugar problems can be managed at home by following your doctor's instructions, use of insulin or diabetes medicines, diet and exercise.
Home blood sugar testing will help determine whether your blood sugar is within your target range. If you have had very low blood sugar, you may be tempted to let your sugar level run high so that you do not have another low blood sugar problem. It is most important that you keep your blood sugar in your target range - do this by following your treatment plan and checking blood sugar regularly.
Children who have diabetes need their parents' help to keep their blood sugar levels in a target range and to exercise safely. Be sure that children learn the symptoms of both high and low blood sugar so they can tell others when they need help. There are many support groups and diabetes education centers to help parents and children understand about blood sugar, exercise, diet, and medicines.
Teens especially may have a hard time keeping their blood sugar levels in control because their bodies are growing and developing. Also, they want to be with their friends and eat foods that may affect their blood sugar. Having diabetes during the teenage years is not easy. But your teen is at an excellent age to understand the disease and its treatment and to take over some of the responsibilities of his or her care.
If your blood sugar level reads too high or too low but you are feeling well, you may want to recheck your sugar level or recalibrate your blood glucose meter. The problem may be with either your blood sample or the machine.
"It is important to know that during times of illness, it is often necessary to monitor blood sugar more frequently than usual, sometimes as often as every 2 hours, in order to lessen the risk of dangerously high or low blood sugars," said Laura Dooley, APRN, Mercy Clinic 14th Ave. "It is important to visit with your diabetes provider during times of wellness to develop a personalized plan of care to control blood sugar levels during episodes of illness in order to prevent unnecessary visits to the emergency room."