Taking care of your diabetes includes knowing when to call a doctor and get medical help. As you learn more about diabetes, you'll become more confident about knowing when to call for help.
Even if you're managing your diabetes on your own, it's a good idea to tell your mom or dad when you're feeling sick or having any symptoms that might be related to your diabetes. Having this parental support can be a huge help. Your mom or dad can help you get in touch with your doctor to prevent things from getting serious or even take you to the emergency department if you need it.
If you're having a problem, start by checking your diabetes management plan. The plan can give you ideas on when and where to call for help.
For many medical problems, it's best to start by calling your primary doctor, like your pediatrician or family doctor. In some cases, though, your diabetes management plan might advise you to call someone else on your diabetes health care team.
If you need to see a doctor or get medical care, health care professionals may ask about:
If you have time, it can help to write down this info before you visit the doctor.
If you're ill, especially if the illness causes fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, or if your ability to eat or drink has been affected, call your doctor.
You should also let your doctor or diabetes health care team know if you:
If you think a situation is an emergency, tell someone to call 911 or help you get to the emergency department. If you are alone, don't hesitate to call your doctor or 911.
Hyperglycemia happens when the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood is higher than it should be.
You should call your doctor if you have high blood sugar levels throughout the day or if you find your blood sugar level is always high at the same time each day.
You should seek medical care right away if, in addition to high blood sugar, you have symptoms or signs of hyperglycemia like:
When the body can't use glucose for fuel, it breaks down fat for energy instead. When fat is broken down, the body produces chemicals called ketones, which appear in the blood and urine. High levels of ketones cause the blood to become more acidic, a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Ketoacidosis can make you very sick if you don't get help.
Go to the ER or call 911 right away if you have symptoms of ketoacidosis like:
Obviously you can't drive yourself to the emergency department if you're feeling very sick. If you think you're in ketoacidosis, tell someone (a parent, teacher, or a friend) to take you to the emergency department or call 911.
Hypoglycemia occurs when the level of glucose in the blood is lower than it should be. People with diabetes may experience hypoglycemia (also called low blood sugar) if they don't eat enough or if they take too much glucose-lowering medication (such as insulin).
You should check your diabetes management plan if you have low blood sugar and feel:
The plan can tell you what to do to treat hypoglycemia. You should always treat hypoglycemia first, then call your doctor. That's because people with diabetes can develop more serious symptoms if their blood sugar drops lower.
You should call your doctor if you're having hypoglycemia a lot.
You or a parent, teacher, or coach should call for emergency medical help if you are:
Your parents, teachers, and coaches should all know how to help you in case of a low blood sugar emergency or they should know to call 911. It might also help if you tell your close friends or people you work with about serious diabetes symptoms you might experience and when they should call 911 if they see you having them.
Sometimes people with diabetes can become overwhelmed and have a hard time coping with the disease. This is very common, especially in teens. If you find that you feel sad all the time, want to eat or sleep a lot or not at all, or you're thinking about suicide, your doctor can be a resource for you if you don't feel comfortable talking to a parent or teacher. He or she may refer you to a counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional who can help you understand more about why you feel the way you do and help you figure out ways to feel better.
If hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, fatigue, or other symptoms happen at the same times every day, your diabetes health care team may need to adjust your diabetes management plan. Doing this can help to prevent some major diabetes problems, so make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.
You also can head off major diabetes problems by always carrying a few things with you, like your testing supplies, snacks, diabetes medications, and your contact information (like your address, phone number, and your parents' cell phone numbers).
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2012
|National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases This group conducts and supports research on many serious diseases affecting public health.|
|American Diabetes Association (ADA) The ADA website includes news, information, tips, and recipes for people with diabetes.|
|Children With Diabetes This website offers true stories about kids and teens who have diabetes.|
|Joslin Diabetes Center The website of this Boston-based center has information about how to monitor blood sugar and manage diabetes.|
|Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) JDRF's mission is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.|
|Medicines for Diabetes Taking medicines is a major part of staying healthy if you have diabetes because they help you keep your blood sugar levels under control.|
|Diabetes Control: Why It's Important 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 Center Our Diabetes Center provides information and advice for teens about treating and living with diabetes.|
|Managing Your Medical Care Visit our center on managing your medical care for advice on how to get involved in taking charge of your health and choosing the right health care providers.|
|Type 1 Diabetes: How Is It Treated? People with type 1 diabetes need to follow a treatment plan to manage their diabetes and stay healthy and active.|
|Your Diabetes Health Care Team It takes all of your team members - you, your parents, doctors, certified diabetes educators, dietitians, and mental health pros - to help you take care of your diabetes.|
|Handling Diabetes When You're Sick Being sick is no fun for anyone. For people with diabetes, being sick can also affect blood sugar levels.|
|Type 2 Diabetes: How Is It Treated? People with type 2 diabetes need to follow a plan to manage their diabetes and stay healthy and active.|
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