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Diabetes: High or Low Blood Sugar in Young Children


Even if you're careful and do all the right things, your child can have problems with low or high blood glucose (sugar). Teach your child to be aware of the symptoms and what to do if they occur.

Symptoms of low blood glucose include:

  • Feeling dizzy.
  • Shaking.
  • Looking pale.
  • Feeling cranky.
  • Being drowsy.

But your child's symptoms may be different.

Low blood glucose happens quickly. A person can get low blood glucose within minutes after exercise or after taking insulin without eating enough.

Symptoms of high blood glucose include:

  • Feeling very thirsty.
  • Being cranky.
  • Feeling drowsy.

High blood glucose usually develops slowly over hours or days.

Both low and high blood glucose can cause problems and need to be treated. Your doctor will suggest how often to test your child's blood glucose.

Symptoms in very young children

Young children with diabetes aren't able to recognize when their blood glucose level is high or low and may not be able to speak to tell an adult. And sometimes it's even hard for a parent to tell the difference.

A very young child with high or low blood glucose may:

  • Be cranky or angry.
  • Cry.
  • Look pale.
  • Be nervous or shaky.
  • Stare off or not respond when touched or spoken to.
  • Have dark urine with a strong sweet odour.
  • Be drowsy or hard to wake up.

Symptoms can be the same for both high and low blood glucose, so when you see changes in your child, do a home blood glucose test. It will show the actual blood glucose level, so you don't have to guess.


Adaptation Date: 8/18/2022

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.