September 22, 2000
Question from Canada:
My son is 15 and has recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. What is a sliding scale?
The term “sliding scale” is used by health care providers to indicate the amount of short-acting insulin to be given based on the blood glucose.
Sliding scales are sometimes used for sick days to help a person decide how much extra insulin to take when their sugars are high, and/or they have ketones. Ask your diabetes team to explain sliding scales to you, and ask if they use them.
[Editor’s comment: To use an analogy, a sliding scale is like putting the cart after the horse. A high blood sugar, once in a while, can be compensated with a correction dose. However, it is best to look for patterns and make permanent changes to the insulin affecting the part of the day when the problems are occurring. Stop the Rollercoaster. It is an excellent reference for adjusting insulin.