Doctors and providers who treat this condition


Diabetic Insulin Reaction (Infant/Toddler)

Children with type 1 diabetes often receive insulin shots. If the insulin level rises too high, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) results. This condition is called a diabetic insulin reaction. A diabetic insulin reaction can occur accidentally if too much insulin is given. It can also occur if the child is more active than usual, eats too little, or is ill.

An insulin reaction comes on suddenly. A child can wake up from sleep with symptoms. A mild reaction may cause hunger, a stomachache, or nausea. The child may be shaky, sweaty, and pale. The child may also be fussy or cry for no reason, weak or tired, anxious, or confused. The child may act giddy or angry as well. A severe reaction can cause seizures and coma.

To treat an insulin reaction:

  • Test the child’s blood sugar (if possible).

  • Give the child 15 to 20 grams of fast-acting sugar to raise the blood sugar level. This could be:

    • 3 to 4 glucose tablets

    • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of fruit juice

    • 2 tablespoons of raisins

    • 1 tablespoon of honey

NOTE: For other sources, check the sugar content on the nutrition label to figure out how much your child needs to eat or drink to get at least 15 grams of sugar.

  • Wait 15 minutes, then test the child’s blood sugar again. If blood sugar level is still low, the child should be given another 15 to 20 grams of fast-acting sugar. Repeat these steps until the child feels better. If blood sugar does not improve, go to the emergency room.

  • Once the child’s blood sugar level returns to normal, the child should eat a snack or meal to keep the blood sugar in a safe range.

  • If the child has passed out, glucagon injections are given immediately. A blood sugar test is done 15 to 20 minutes after the injection. An insulin reaction that is not treated can affect brain development.

Home Care:

Medications: Your child’s insulin dosage may need to be adjusted. Follow the doctor’s instructions. The doctor may also recommend a glucagon injection kit.

General Care:

  • Check your child’s blood sugar level as directed by the doctor. Try to keep the blood sugar in a normal range. Check the blood sugar more often when your child is ill or very active.

  • Ensure that your child eats healthy meals and snacks on a regular basis. It is important not to skip meals. Your child should eat a snack before vigorous play.

  • If your child is old enough, teach him or her to recognize the early symptoms of low blood sugar. These symptoms can vary from child to child.

  • Keep a record of your child’s reactions including insulin given, activity level, and symptoms.

  • Educate caregivers on your child’s condition and how to treat any reactions.

  • Have your child wear a diabetic medical ID bracelet.

  • Contact the doctor if you have any questions about how to care for your child.

Follow Up

as advised by the doctor or our staff.

Special Notes To Parents:

Insulin reactions may occur despite your best efforts to prevent them. As advised by the doctor, be sure to carry glucose tablets, candy, or a glucagon injection kit with you at all times.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Two or more reactions occur within a short time of each other

  • Severe reaction such as seizures, convulsions, or unconsciousness


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