Hyperglycemia occurs when blood glucose levels rise beyond normal levels. Unlike hypoglycemia there are typically no immediate negative side-effects, however it is hyperglycemia that tends to be the long-term battle of most people with diabetes.
Because those with Type 1 diabetes are not able to produce insulin, there is the constant danger of rising blood glucose levels, especially after meals. Over the long run (years) if you suffer consistently from hyperglycemia you are at more danger of nerve and organ damage. All of those nasty side-effects of diabetes (blindness, heart disease, amputation of limbs, etc) are all a result of long term hyperglycemia.
On a more immediate front, if someone is suffering from extreme hyperglycemia over the course of days, they are very likely to contract ketoacidosis, which can have very serious complications.
Hyperglycemia in people with Type 1 diabetes is almost always a result of either missing a dose of insulin or miscalculating the number of carbohydrates they just consumed and thus taking an insufficient dosage of insulin.
How can you identify Hyperglycemia in your child?
Everyone will be slightly different in their symptoms. However, hyperglycemia is typically associated with either headaches or stomach aches. What we’ve found in our son is that if he starts to complain of an upset stomach, it is likely a case where we’ve mis-calculated our recent insulin injection. He’ll come to us and say that he feels like he wants to throw-up, but in all other aspects is feeling fine – no headache, no aches or pains, no fever.
If you recognize these kind of symptoms it is best to test their blood glucose levels and get a reading on where they are at that moment.
How to manage Hyperglycemia
Because there are no immediate negative impacts, you need to first determine how high your child really is. With all the different insulins you’ll find that there are different potency curves and at times after a meal your child will just naturally have a high blood glucose reading. This is due to the fact that their glucose has risen quicker than the potency of the insulin. If you think the insulin has not yet kicked in and they are not extremely high, it is probably best to wait things out and look at how you need to adjust your insulin dosage calculation for the next meal.
On the other hand, if you feel your insulin should have already balanced out their carb intake, and they are significantly higher than what you would expect (e.g. over 200 on a blood glucose level), you may want to provide them with another small dose of insulin to bring them back down. If you do this make sure you keep this in mind when they next consume food. Should you adjust your insulin dosage down?
Overall, hyperglycemia is not as immediately dangerous as hypoglycemia, however, over the long run it is the primary reason why those with diabetes contract more serious health issues. As such, it is critically important that you manage blood glucose levels so that your hyperglycemia episodes are subtle and infrequent.