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.
What Should I Tell the Health Care Team?
If you need to see a doctor or get medical care, health care professionals may
your symptoms, like whether you've been throwing up or feeling more tired than
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, if you find your blood sugar level is always high at the
same time each day, or if you are having symptoms of high blood sugar like drinking
or urinating (peeing) a lot more than normal.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
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:
nausea and vomiting
deep, rapid breathing
drowsiness or confusion
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
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
You or a parent, teacher, or coach should call for emergency medical
help if you are:
feel like you're going to faint
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.
Other Reasons to Call a Doctor
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).