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Health Information For Parents
Besides helping to keep blood sugar levels (also known as blood glucose levels) under control, checking them according to the diabetes management plan will help you and your child:
How often you should test your child’s blood sugar levels each day — and when — depends on a number of things and can even change from day to day. In general, most kids with diabetes test their blood sugar levels before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and at bedtime.
They may need to check more often when they’re sick or if there are changes in their diabetes treatment or daily habits. They may also need to check more often if they use an insulin pump or have a management plan that aims for very close control of blood sugar levels. The diabetes health care team can advise you on how often and when to check.
Sometimes parents need to check their child’s blood sugar levels in the middle of the night. For example, kids having problems with hypoglycemia episodes may need middle-of-the-night tests. And those who’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes may need more frequent tests while they and their families are learning how insulin or other diabetes medicines affect blood sugar levels.
Blood glucose testing is easier, less painful, and more accurate than ever. Blood sugar levels can be tested with a blood glucose meter, a computerized device that measures and displays the amount of glucose in a blood sample.
To get a blood sample, a small needle called a lancet is used to prick the skin (usually on a finger or the forearm) to draw a drop of blood. The drop of blood is placed on a testing strip that goes into the glucose meter, and the blood glucose reading appears on a screen within a few seconds.
Many types of glucose meters are available with different features. But most people choose the type of equipment covered by their insurance plans.
When choosing a glucose meter, consider:
New technologies make it easier to keep track of blood sugar levels. Adjustable lancets can make finger pricks less painful by changing the depth to which the needle enters the skin. Some glucose meters can use blood drawn from a forearm or other body parts that may be less sensitive than a fingertip.
You or your child’s doctor might want to get an even more detailed look at blood sugar level changes. Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are wearable devices that measure blood sugar every few minutes throughout the day and night via a sensor inserted under the skin. By providing a more detailed profile of a child’s blood sugar levels, CGMs can help some kids with diabetes do an even better job of “fine-tuning” their blood sugar control.
The diabetes health care team will help you choose the best equipment for your child.
The glycosylated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1c or HbA1c) test will give you an overall picture of what your child’s blood glucose control has been over the 2 to 3 months before the test and is usually done during regular clinic visits with the diabetes health care team.
Hemoglobin is the substance inside red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells of the body. The higher the glucose level is in the blood, the more it sticks to the hemoglobin. And once hemoglobin picks up glucose, the glucose stays on it for the life of the red blood cell, which is about 2 to 3 months.
The most commonly measured type of hemoglobin in the blood that has glucose attached to it is called HbA1c. In general, the lower (and closer to the levels seen in people without diabetes) your child’s HbA1c, the better controlled the blood sugars have been over the last 2 to 3 months. Having lower HbA1c levels over years is associated with a lower risk of future health problems related to diabetes.
Another important test checks for ketones, chemicals that show up in the urine (pee) and blood after the body breaks down fat for energy. The body will break down fat when it can’t use glucose; for example, when there isn’t enough insulin to help the glucose get into the cells or not enough food has been eaten to provide glucose for energy (such as when a child is ill).
Having lots of ketones in the body can put a child at risk for a major diabetes emergency called diabetic ketoacidosis, which can make kids very sick. So it’s important to test for ketones when necessary before they build up in the body. It’s an easy test to do at home.
The diabetes health care team will let you know how and when to test for ketones (usually when your child is having consistently high blood sugar test results or is ill with vomiting or other symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis). They’ll also teach you how to interpret the results as part of your child’s overall treatment plan.
While glucose meters can help keep track of your child’s blood sugar tests, writing down the results or reviewing downloads/printouts of blood glucose monitor data will make it easier for you and the diabetes management team to see patterns and trends.
If you have diabetes, you can use this printable sheet to record your blood glucose levels.
Our Diabetes Center provides information and advice for teens about treating and living with diabetes.
Does your child have type 1 or type 2 diabetes? Learn how to manage the disease and keep your child healthy.
Too much glucose in the blood can be unhealthy. Learn more about what to do when blood sugar is too high in this article for kids.
Hypoglycemia is the medical word for low blood sugar level. It needs to be treated right away. Learn more about what to do when blood sugar is too low in this article for kids.
When blood glucose levels drop too low, it’s called hypoglycemia. Very low blood sugar levels can cause severe symptoms that need to be treated right away.
If you have diabetes, you might think you shouldn’t eat carbohydrates (carbs) at all. But all kids, including kids with diabetes, can and should eat carbs as part of a healthy diet.
Meal plans can help kids with diabetes balance carbs with medications and exercise to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
To keep your diabetes under control, stay healthy, and prevent future problems, you need to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range. To do that, check and track those levels regularly.
Checking your blood sugar levels is a really important part of managing diabetes. Knowing those levels will help you keep your blood sugar under control – and that helps you feel good and keeps you healthy.
When blood glucose levels drop too low, it’s called hypoglycemia. Very low blood sugar levels can cause severe symptoms that require immediate treatment.
You’ve probably heard your child’s doctor talk a lot about diabetes control. What is it and why is it important?
Keeping blood sugar levels under control can help keep you healthy and prevent health problems from happening down the road. Find out more.
People who have diabetes may hear or read a lot about controlling, or managing, the condition. But what is diabetes control and why is it so important?
Diabetes means a problem with insulin, an important hormone in the body. Find out how children with diabetes can stay healthy and do the normal stuff kids like to do.
When you have a child with diabetes, you and your family have a lot to learn, but you don’t have to go it alone. Your child’s diabetes health care team can help.
Blood tests and insulin injections can be a challenge for kids with diabetes and their parents. Here are some strategies for coping with these necessary procedures.
If you have diabetes, your doctor may have recommended keeping track of how many carbohydrates (carbs) you eat. But what exactly are carbs and how do they affect your blood sugar?
If your child has diabetes, you can use this printable sheet to record his or her blood glucose levels.
When blood glucose levels (also called blood sugar levels) are too high, it’s called hyperglycemia. A major goal in controlling diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels as close to the desired range as possible.
For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is important. Having a blood sugar level that’s too high can make you feel lousy, and having high blood sugar levels a lot can be unhealthy.
Kids who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will need a diabetes management plan to help them manage the condition and stay healthy and active.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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