If you think your blood sugar may be dipping too low, check your blood sugar level with a blood glucose meter. Then eat or drink something that's mostly sugar or carbohydrates to raise your blood sugar level quickly. Foods with a lot of fat, such as chocolate, don't work as well. Examples of foods that will raise your blood sugar level quickly include:
- Five to six pieces of hard candy
- Four ounces (120 milliliters) of fruit juice or regular — not diet — soda
- One tablespoon (15 milliliters) of sugar, jelly or honey
- Three glucose tablets (available without a prescription at most pharmacies)
- A serving of glucose gel (read the label for amount)
If you have symptoms of low blood sugar but can't check your blood sugar level right away, then act as though you have hypoglycemia. You might want to carry at least one sugary item with you at all times. It's also a good idea to wear a bracelet that identifies you as someone who has diabetes.
Check your blood sugar level again 15 to 20 minutes later. If it's still too low, eat or drink something sugary. When you feel better, eat meals and snacks as usual.
Some people have frequent and severe hypoglycemia despite medication adjustments. In these circumstances, your doctor may recommend a higher glucose goal range and prescribe glucagon, a hormone that causes blood glucose to rise.
Glucagon, available only by prescription, comes in an emergency syringe kit. It contains one dose that has to be mixed before injecting. Store the glucagon at room temperature and be aware of the expiration date. If you're unconscious, someone who gives you the injection should turn you on your side to prevent choking in case you vomit.
In 15 minutes, you should be alert and able to swallow. You then need to eat. If you don't respond within 15 minutes, you need emergency medical care.
Feb. 20, 2015
- Kronenberg HM, et al. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
- Cryer PE. Management of hypoglycemia during treatment of diabetes mellitus. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
- Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
- Hypoglycemia. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/hypoglycemia/. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.