Hypoglycaemia (low BGL or hypo) occurs when the BGL drops to less than 4mmol/L or when hypo symptoms are being experienced at a level close to 4mmol/L.

What causes a hypo?

  • Being physically active (sport, excitement, play etc)
  • Delaying or missing meals or snacks
  • Not eating enough carbohydrate
  • Having too much insulin

What are the symptoms of a hypo?

  • Headache
  • Looking pale
  • Sweating
  • Being irritable
  • Trembling
  • Feeling hungry
  • Crying
  • Feeling or acting confused
  • Any behaviour out of character for the child

Young children may not say “I’m having a hypo”, they may use other words like – “I feel funny”, “I feel wobbly”, “I’m tired”. BGLs less than 4mmol/L should be treated even when there are no symptoms.

If in doubt, do not waste time doing a blood glucose test.

Mild – Moderate Hypo Treatment

If the child is conscious and has a BGL less than 4mmol/L, take the following steps:
Give any one of the following (you may need to coax the child to eat or drink):

  • ½ can of soft drink (not diet or low joule)
  • ½ small glass of juice or small tetra pack
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey or sugar
  • 5-7 jelly beans
  • Glucose tablets equivalent to 10-15 grams

Symptoms usually disappear after 10-15 minutes, however if the BGL remains low and symptoms are still present, repeat the treatment and stay with the child.

A child having a hypo should never be left alone.

Follow up with extra carbohydrate food, such as fruit, a sandwich or biscuits. If a hypo occurs just before a scheduled meal or snack, follow with that meal or snack.

Following a hypo, you may find that the child is not able to rejoin the activity immediately. It can sometimes take longer than 15 minutes to completely recover from the hypo.

Severe Hypo Treatment

If the child has a fit, is unconscious or unable to take anything by mouth, get emergency help fast!

  • Do not attempt to give anything by mouth
  • Lie the child on their side, in the recovery/coma position
  • Call the ambulance (dial 000) OR
  • Stay with the child until help arrives
  • Contact the child’s parents immediately

A Hypo Kit

It’s important that parents provide a hypo kit (eg. juice and biscuits) and that the child carries it with them at all times. Parents should make sure that the hypo kit is well stocked and replenished regularly.

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