Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic’s many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Give to Mayo ClinicHelp set a new world standard in care for people everywhere. Give now.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
In the United States — maybe elsewhere, too — there is a popular saying: "Do as I say, not as I do" — meaning, "Don't imitate my behavior, obey my instructions."
Tonight, I went for a walk with my husband, who uses insulin. Every day, I educate people on how to treat low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). You know the recommendation: Always carry carbohydrates to treat hypoglycemia. Well we did that, but we left them in the car, which doesn't do much good if you're a mile down the trail and you experience hypoglycemia.
Indeed, we'd walked a mile when I noticed that my husband was breathing a little heavy and looking pale and sweaty. I had to run back to the car, grab the fruit snacks and run back to him. The fruit snacks did the trick and he is just fine, but I sure felt sheepish.
Here's a quick review of the American Diabetes Association's "rule of 15" for treating hypoglycemia.
If your blood glucose is less than 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L):
Some easy-to-carry items that contain 15 grams of carbohydrate are:
And, most of all, do as I say, not as I did! Carry a carbohydrate with you at all times to treat potential hypoglycemia. We certainly experienced a scary situation and learned that lesson the hard way.
Have a great week!
Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E.
Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E.
Selecting "Submit" signifies that you have read and agree to our posting guidelines.
THANKS! Never even thought of "frosting gel"! Type I for >50 years.
Now, difficult to find glucose gel in RESEALABLE tubes. Some products contain ~ 3o g glucose but NOT able to reseal them. REALLY kinda' dumb in my opinion.
Thanks again! And, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!
I am again going to a treatment center. I was only told of crackers and small cookies and snack food. Never was I told that fruit snacks would work. I need more info if this is so.
What do you do at night, when you are asleep and have a bad low blood sugar episode?
I recently found out that a certain type dream, always the same situation, lost, trying to find my way, home, etc appears to be connect to a low blood sugar attack in my sleep. The reason, I think so, is I sweat every time I need sugar really badly. And I was sweating when I was awakened from one of these dreams...
Most of the info etc relates to Type II -My wife at age 77 became Type I due to a partial pancreatectomy - I would to learn more about their challenges - test 4x a/day -3 different types of insulin /day -numbers ranging from 80 to 300 -challenges of diet ,compliancy ,daily life styl etc Is there a Type I support group ?
I have been an insulin dependent diabetic for almost 54 years now. I always have glucose tablets and candy with me. However, if I wait until my blood sugar is down to 70 mg/dl and treated it with a 15 carb snack, I'd be in the hospital. When my blood sugar is under 100 mg/dl, it continues spiraling downward until treated. Therefore, I test 5 to 10 times a day. It works for me and I've had ple4nty of practice.
I wish I could have the problem of low blood sugar.
Thank you for this article. I'm diabetic and do experience hypoglycemia. I always appreciate the reminders. Just recently I read about using icing / frosting geI. I love that idea. Does any icing work or should I look for one with dextrose?
My husband ha been having trouble with severe sleepyness after he eats, sweating and chills ad mood swings. He has been to numerouse doctors in our small town and have been checked for diabetes with the sugary liquid test, all came out fine. He had a very bad eposide yesterday afternoon after our sons baseball game. We came home and h a pot roast sandwich and chips and afterwards he was falling asleep at the table sitting up and saying he was serevely hot also his vision seemed weird he said. We had gotten a testing thing awhile ago so he tested just to see what it said and it read 20! I gave him ornge juice and it read Low. After 3 glasses of orange juice it finally read 80. This would not be diabetic right? Isn't it Hypoglociemia? Thank you.
Deborah: Yes, physical activity does help to reduce blood sugar levels. Exercise helps the body use glucose without needing insulin. If you are on insulin or a sulfonylurea you should test your blood glucose before, during, and after exercise. You also should carry hypoglycemia treatment with you.
I'm having symptoms of hypoglycemia lately. Does physical activity reduce blood sugar levels? At what point should I consider testing my glucose levels?
High fat meals slow the absorption of glucose and causes high blood glucose hours after the meal has been consumed. If you take the rapid insulin prior to a high fat meal, such as pizza, you may experience a low blood glucose because the food response is delayed.
I have been diabetic, type 2, for 25 years. I have never been to an endocrinologist, just Family Practicioners. I have recently been having trouble keeping my glucose levels up. I have not changed my diet. I have adjusted my Novolog and Lantus, but the levels are just wacky!
Tonight, after a carb heavy dinner at friends, (beef & bean burritos, chili, cheese and onions, iced tea, and apples) glucose level was 71. I was shaky. Ate peanut butter and bread. 2 hrs later, 129 and falling! Has my pancreas, miraculously, decide to work again or am I just gong nuts?
Joy: Sorry that you feel that my example is upsetting. Alas, I am only human! :) My husband helps me in so many ways and as his wife a reminder to grab the fruit snack or other hypoglycemia treatment is fair payback. That's what marriage is all about.
You are setting an upsetting example.
Your husband should be embarassed that he did not have a fruit snack with him, not you.
Perhaps you both have come to believe it is your responsibility to care for his blood sugar. He is a big boy. You both might consider letting him act the part.
The 15/15 rule is so important to remember and yet easy to forget. I am a Certified Diabetes Educator and through the years patients have taught me about how they treat hypoglycemia. Some patients like to treat with 15gm carbohydrates snacks that are easy to chew and carry such as raisins,jelly beans or other jelly like candy. The ADA also recommends having a meal or snack within 30 minutes after recovery.
I recently have been seeing a different doctor for my low blood sugar. My meds were changed to Acarbose and combined with Verapamil which is a high blood pressure med that helps keep my low blood sugar from bottoming out. At bedtime, I take Losartan, another blood pressure med, which keeps my blood sugar from bottoming during the night when I don't have access to food or knowledge of low blood sugar. I finally feel happy I have somewhat of control of diabetes.
Intranasal glucagon, I hadn't heard of this until I read this blog comment. Sounds like a good idea. From my web search I don't see that it is available on the market and is still in research.
Is intranasal glucagon available for a hypoglycemic emergency? I haven't seen anything about it recently.
Hi! My 16 y/o daughter was having several symptoms from a-z. I took her to her Pediatrician who did fasting blood work and urine. He called me today requesting we come to his office first thing Monday morning, that she was hypoglycemic. I have a copy of all her labs and there is something that has left me confused. Her fasting blood glucose level was only 48 BUT her urine keytones were >80. How is that possible?
Pre-diabetes, if the blood glucose continues in the pre-diabetes level and you feel you have done what you can with exercise and weight loss, see your provider. Often the liver is putting out extra sugar early morning and there is a medication often used in pre-diabetes that is an option for you.
Insulin pump therapy may reduce the incidents of severe hypoglycemia over a multiple daily injection program. The insulin pump is a tool and is only as effective as the person using it.
People with hypoglycemia unawareness don’t experience the classic symptoms of low blood glucose. Instead, without warning they can lapse into severe hypoglycemia, becoming confused, disoriented or falling down unconsciousness. With longevity of diabetes and extreme variability of glucoses; the individual loses the epinephrine response to low blood glucose along with warning symptoms
Hypoglycemia is low blood glucose.
My Dad was diagnosed with diabetes but is able to control it with his diet. The problem is he has lost too much weight. How can a diabetic gain weight safely without compromising his diabetes?
Hypoglycemia unawareness is a major concern too. Guess we should make the bracelet common, especially for people who cannot identify hypo by themselves.
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. Think anything under 70 is considred low. Think you are more apt to have it if you are on insulin. I have been a Type 1 35 years. Type 2's can have it.
What is the difference between hypoglemia and type 2 diabetes?
I never leave home without glusoe tablets or a small box of juice. I no longer know when I am low unless I am reading and can't see. I test at least 7 times a day.
I am 51 years old and have been a type1 diabetic for the past 38 years. In 1988 I experienced a hypoglycemic coma which lasted several hours. Ever since I regained consciousnes my memory has not been the same. Even up to this day I have extreme problems with my memory. Now I am 75-85% of the time quite unaware of when my blood sugar level is too low. Last year it was confirmed that a degeneration of the brain was taking place due to my sometimes inability to experience any symptoms of hypoglycemia. I am of the opinion that a subcutaneous insulin delivery system would be the only answer....... Any advice or opinions on this subject would be greatly appreciated.Thankyou.
what is hypoglycemia
I keep testing Pre-diabetic glucose levels. How does one deal with this? I have lost weight, eat low fat, low CHO, whole grain meals, lots of fruit * veggies, exercise, and still test the same. No history of diabetes in the family.....
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not for profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.