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High blood glucose is called “hyperglycemia”.
high blood sugar

Causes of High Blood Glucose:

  • Eating too much food (relative to the amount of insulin taken)
  • Less activity than usual
  • Not enough insulin (the usual dose of insulin is too low)
  • Missing a dose of insulin
  • Illness 
  • Stress – both negative (worry or fear) and positive (excitement)

Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Glucose

Symptoms of high blood glucose are usually seen when the blood glucose is greater than 14.0 mmol/L for several hours.

Signs and symptoms of high blood glucose are:

  • Increased urination (peeing)
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Lack of energy, drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty concentrating 

As parents we tend to worry about the lows and do all we can to avoid them. However, it is important to remember that chronic high blood glucose has its associated problems, too.  Since high blood glucose makes it difficult to concentrate, school performance may suffer as a result of high blood glucose (even in the short term). Similarly, lack of energy may affect your child’s functioning in and enjoyment of sports and leisure activities. Not to mention that fact that chronic highs increase your child’s risk of future complications. For this reason, it is important to strive for good overall blood glucose control, which includes as few swings as possible (both lows AND highs).

Treatment of High Blood Glucose "With" Ketones

If the blood glucose is higher than 14.0 mmol/L for a long period of time, the body may burn fat for energy. (See
Blood Glucose Management/The New Language.)  Ketones may develop as a result of the metabolism of fat, which, if untreated, could lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If you are not familiar with the signs and symptoms of ketones and DKA, we highly recommend you review: Level1/Basics/Ketones & DKA on this website, which also gives treatment guidelines for high blood glucose with ketones.

Treatment of High Blood Glucose "Without" Ketones

If your child’s blood glucose is above the target range, a correction dose of insulin should be given.

The amount of this correction dose depends on:

  • how high the blood glucose is
  • how sensitive your child’s body is to insulin, which is indicated by their Insulin Sensitivity Factor (ISF)

Your child’s doctor or diabetes nurse educator should provide you with a method for correcting highs, so that you know how much insulin to give to correct high blood glucose:  a “sliding scale”, a correction number, a correction formula, or an Insulin Sensitivity Factor (ISF). These are all paths to the same goal: lowering above-target blood glucose.

(For more information on calculating corrections for high blood glucose, see Level1/Basics/
Treating Highs.)

Remember the following guidelines for managing highs:

  • Whenever your child’s blood glucose is greater than 14.0 mmol/L, check for ketones.
  • If your child is on a Conventional insulin program, it is NOT helpful to give more (intermediate-acting) N/NPH at bedtime for high blood glucose. Your child’s doctor will give you guidelines on how much extra rapid-acting insulin to give, using your “correction formula” or “sliding scale”. To make sure the correction is working, check the blood glucose two to three hours later.

A high blood glucose without ketones is not harmful in the short term. If there is a pattern of high blood glucose, contact your child’s health care team for possible insulin dose adjustments. (You may also see the Insulin Adjustment sections of this website for more information.)

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The above information was adapted with permission from The Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic information handouts.

The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.

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