At some time or another, every T1D parent is met with a perplexing meter reading that seems to have no obvious rhyme or reason. You do the mental checklist—going back over your child’s meals, the carb counts, the bolus—and still, it doesn’t add up. Sometimes with type 1 diabetes, there just is no perfect explanation for out-of-range numbers. And then other times, you find out your favorite hand soap contains sugar (what?), or your cat’s favorite chew toy is insulin pump tubing. Check out the experiences of other parents who have been caught off-guard by a high or low blood sugar and the unexpected answers they finally uncovered behind these most mysterious meter readings.

My Bad

“One time my daughter had a blood sugar of 300 pop up on the meter when her continuous glucose monitor was reading in the low 100s. It turned out that I had something sugary on my fingers, and it transferred when I grabbed the test strip out of the bottle. Oops!”

—Joanne, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, blogger at and mom of 6-year-old Elise

No, Sugar-Free Isn’t Always Better

“I kept getting called to go get my son at school because whenever he had a low, his number wouldn’t really come back up quickly. I would ask, ‘Did you give him his juice drink and crackers?’ The answer was always yes. I was going out of my mind with worry, until one day I looked at the bottle of juice the secretary (the school didn’t have a nurse) used to treat his lows. Not only was it not the same one I had dropped off, but it was SUGAR-FREE. Since then, I have always labeled the bottles I send in with my child’s name.”

—Amanda, Bolingbrook, Ill., mom of 6-year-old Trevor

Sorry for Party Rocking

“When our daughter Allie Lou develops a mystery high, we do a quick check to see if her emotions could be the cause of the spike. Recently we had a 40th birthday party for my husband. Two hours after eating two tacos, which I dosed her for, Allie Lou’s blood sugar went high. We had never seen numbers like this, but then we realized it was the excitement from the party. When she calmed down, so did her numbers. Only a parent of a child with T1D can truly understand the roller coaster ride we go on every day!”

—Sarah, Moraga, Calif., mom of 5-year-old Allie Lou

Respect the Carbs

“For us, the real mystery highs come from mystery carbs—those unexpected carbs hidden in foods we don’t eat very often. We can usually guess or estimate the right number of carbs in a food item, but a great deal of ‘carb respect’ is required for foods such as smoothies, quadruple chocolate fudge caramel cakes, various dips, sushi, or lattes with 10 pumps of flavoring, or basically any kind of rice dish.”

—Tina, Seattle, blogger at and mom of “Sweetstuff,” “Middles,” and “Sugarboy” (each of whom has type 1)

Take a Crack at This One

“I remember after school one day my youngest had a high blood sugar reading. His lunchtime number was in range, and he bolused for lunch, so it was peculiar, although not unheard of. He corrected the high, and a half hour later the meter blinked back an even higher number. His infusion set looked good, so I took the pump and primed a bit of insulin to see if it was coming out. Insulin came out of the set, but also dripped onto my wrist. Turns out the tubing was cracked right at the ring that twists onto the set. Checking for cracks in tubing is now part of our investigative process when unexplained highs present themselves.”

—Meri, San Francisco, blogger at and mom of 16-year-old Jack, 12-year-old Ben, and 10-year-old Luke (each of whom has type 1)

Hidden Evidence

“We were getting mystery highs all the time. I was going crazy constantly checking my son’s pump, but then one day I found food wrappers under his bed. Not just a few, but a whole bunch. My son was 12 at the time, the very epitome of a ‘growing boy.’ The mystery turned out to be quite easy to solve: He was hungry! We looked at our planned meals and snacks and made adjustments to accommodate for his bigger appetite.”

—Lydia, Cranberry, N.J., mom of 18-year-old Andrew

They Make the Sweetest Mud Pies

“We have seen false lows from wet or sweaty hands, but we’ve also experienced false highs from forgetting to wash hands—not only after eating, but even just after playing outside. Some of the most unexpected things have sugar residue! No matter what, wash and dry those hands before testing.”

—Alexis, Las Vegas, Nev., blogger at and mom of 12-year-old Justice

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.

Related topics:
People in the Know: Mysterious Meter Readings
The Perfect Explanation
In the Spotlight: The Problem With Diabetes Perfectionism

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