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Managing Sick Days

Sick Days

Sick days will likely be something that we must all deal with.  The flu season is traditionally from December to February.  However, depending on the circumstances, of course, children can get sick at any time.

Having a sick child can be an anxious time for parents.  Having a sick child who also has Type One, can send that anxiety through the roof!  I know, we’ve been there.  Sleepless nights, here we come, right?  While there is always concern (justifiably so), there are some things that parents can do to at least be somewhat prepared.  Here are a number of tips that we have found, as a family with a type one child, to help to ease some of that anxiety. 

The first thing you can do is set aside a Sick-Day Box, maybe a large plastic container, for example, that contains all the supplies you will need when your child becomes ill.  Not exclusively (maybe you can think of things to add), this box should contain the following things:

  • A Binder with all the Sick Day Guidelines your Diabetic Team has provided for you. This Guide should contain all the contact numbers for your diabetic team, insulin adjustment charts, how to and how often to check for ketones, instructions on how and when to use emergency glucagon, and how and when to use mini dose glucagon, etc.  If you don’t have Sick Day Guidelines, now is that time to contact your team.
  • Thermometer, Fever medication, Gravol
  • Test strips and Glucometer and CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) (e.g. Dexcom, Libre).
  • Glucagon Kit and Insulin Syringes to administer mini-Glucagon doses in case your child can no longer keep sugar down, and is going low.  If you do not know how to do this, contact your diabetic team for instructions.
  • Baqsimi (nasal glucagon) for emergency lows.
  •  Sugar-Free (eg. diet pop) AND Sugary Drinks (regular pop) for preventing dehydration when high and low respectively.   
  •  Ketone strips and/or Ketone reader (e.g. Libre Receiver) for checking ketones every 2 - 4 hrs throughout the day and night.
  • Popsicles made from an Electrolyte-restoring drink (e.g Pedialyte or Gatorade) - or just regular popsicles sugar-free if the child is high, or sugary if the child is low.
  • Jello, which can also help to keep your child hydrated.

If you would like a FREE downloadable PDF Checklist to go on your own SICK DAY DIABETIC BOX, you can sign up for our newsletter below and I’ll send it your way immediately!


When your Child becomes ill.

  1. The first thing I did (mostly at the beginning of our T1D journey) was to contact our Diabetic Nurse if it was a week-day to let her know of the situation.  That way, she was aware and was looking for my responses and questions on her device.  It was comforting to know, even if things were going well, that I could quickly call her or email her and get a quick response back.  If my child was sick on the weekends (sigh…why do kids always get sick on Friday night?), I still sent an email, knowing that she would get it Monday morning, and would likely follow up with me then.  

  1. The second step was to take out the Sick Day Box and reach for the Binder with all the Sick Day Protocols.  If you’re like me, you’re never going to remember the contents of those charts and insulin adjustments, especially in a moment of anxiety.   

  1. Thirdly, we started to manage symptoms, Tylenol etc. for fever, etc, etc. and began the regiment of checking BGs, Ketones (every 2-4 hrs), and acting accordingly.


Because your child’s BG can fluctuate dangerously in either direction quickly and without notice, it is important to keep checking their BG throughout the day and throughout the night.  A CGM (continuous glucose monitor) like Dexcom or Libre will make this easier, with alarms notifying you of lows and highs.  You may still be pricking (to calibrate or if you don’t have a CGM), or even checking ketones (which should be done every 2-4 hours, day and night).  These constant checks, fluctuations of numbers and necessary adjustments are on top of what it takes to care for a sick child who does not have type one diabetes.  Needless, to say, we found as parents that sleep was pretty much non-existent during this time.

One way to help with sleep deprivation is if you have a partner/spouse you can trade-off on sleep-time.  It is kinda like having a new baby.  If only one of you needs to get up and work the next day, the sharing may not be as evenly shared, but try to come up with some way to make sure you get some needed rest.  All the nurses told me when I had my first child, “sleep when your baby sleeps”.  Forget getting anything else done at home except the essentials.  Once your child is resting, at safe levels and comfortable, make sure you rest then as well.  Mental Health is Important.  Just a little tip from a T1D-momma.


Remember the saying, “when you’re tired, everything looks like a mountain”?  It is true.  Sleep deprivation combined with managing a sick child with T1D can just shoot the anxiety level to a whole new level.  You might feel emotional, scared, jumpy and highly reactive.  These emotions are understandable because we are on high alert.  Sick days with T1D is no joke and you are keeping your child alive through it, one minute at a time.  I get it.  Just be aware, though, that you may get to a point where you can no longer manage things on your own or with the help of your diabetic team, for whatever reason.  At this point NEVER HESITATE TO TAKE YOUR CHILD TO EMERGENCY.  There is NO shame in admitting that you need help and no one is going to question you if you take your type one diabetic child to Emerg!   

I sincerely hope these tips and tricks that have helped us a family deal with Sick Days, also help you or may give you some additional ideas.  Every family is different and I am sure you have your own tips and tricks.  Feel free to share those with me via email at  I would love to hear from you!



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