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Some kids with diabetes need to take medicine to help them stay healthy. It depends on what kind of diabetes a kid has and what their doctor says is best.

The main job of medicines is to help keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range — not too high or too low. When blood sugars stay level, kids with diabetes can feel good and avoid problems.

There are 3 kinds of medicines that kids might take:

  1. Insulin (say: IN-suh-lin) is a hormone that helps glucose get into the body's cells where it can be used for energy. Without insulin around, glucose stays in the blood and blood sugar levels get too high (called hyperglycemia). Everybody with type 1 diabetes must take insulin. A person gets insulin through shots or an insulin pump.  A kid with type 2 diabetes might take insulin if the doctor says it's needed.
  2. Glucagon (say: GLOO-kuh-gon) is a hormone that helps raise low blood sugar levels very quickly. Kids with diabetes can get really low blood sugar (called hypoglycemia). A kid who has hypoglycemia might need a glucagon shot.
  3. Other kinds of medicines for kids with type 2 diabetes. Some kids with type 2 diabetes need to take medicines to help them make more insulin, use insulin better, or lower their blood sugar. These medicines can come as a pill or a shot. They work best when kids who take them also eat healthy and exercise regularly.

If you have questions about diabetes or your medicines, ask your doctor or a parent. They’ll be happy to talk with you.

Medically reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date reviewed: January 2024