Topic Overview

If you have diabetes, your doctor will give you blood sugar goals and recommendations for treating high blood sugar. Here are some general guidelines.

Mild to moderately high blood sugar

Follow these steps if blood sugar is over the target range set by your doctor, for example, over, 11.0 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) for two or more readings a few hours apart.

  • If the usual dose of diabetes medicine was missed, give the missed dose.
  • If the doctor has prescribed a dose of fast-acting insulin based on the blood sugar level (sliding scale), give the appropriate dose. If not, call the doctor for advice.
  • Test for ketones, if the doctor has advised you to do so. If the results of the ketone test show a moderate-to-large amount of ketones, call the doctor for advice.
  • Wait 30 minutes after giving the extra insulin or the missed medicine.
  • Check the blood sugar again.
  • Extra liquids are needed to replace the fluids lost through the urine. Water and sugar-free drinks are best.
  • If symptoms of high blood sugar become more noticeable or if the blood sugar level continues to rise, call the doctor.
  • If your child's blood sugar continues to rise (for example, above 14.0 mmol/L), and if he or she starts to feel drowsy or loses consciousness, take your child to an emergency room or call 911 or other emergency services immediately. Stay with your child until emergency help arrives.
  • For adults, if you start to feel drowsy or disoriented or if your blood sugar continues to rise, for example, above 20.0 mmol/L, call 911 or other emergency services immediately. It's best to have someone with you if your blood sugar is this elevated so that the person can call for you.

Extremely high blood sugar

Follow these steps if blood sugar is extremely high (for example, over 22.0 mmol/L in a child or over 34.0 mmol/L in an adult). Some blood sugar meters read only levels up to about 22.0 mmol/L.

  • Wash the finger carefully before checking again. Sometimes sugar on the skin will cause a high reading.
  • If the meter reads high, test the accuracy of the meter, and then recheck the blood sugar.
  • If the meter reads high again, call the doctor for advice or seek emergency care.

After a high blood sugar episode

After blood sugar level has returned to a target range, continue medicine as prescribed by the doctor and check blood sugar levels as directed. Report the episode to the doctor.

Drink extra liquids to replace the fluids lost through the urine. Water and sugar-free drinks are best. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Also avoid regular soda pop, fruit juice, and other liquids that contain a lot of sugar.

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ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

Current as ofMay 22, 2015