Living with diabetes blog

Be ready to treat hypoglycemia

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. September 7, 2012

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):

  • Treat with 15 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Check blood glucose in 15 minutes.
  • Repeat treatment every 15 minutes until blood glucose is in your goal range.
  • If you've treated for hypoglycemia three times, seek medical attention.

Some easy-to-carry items that contain 15 grams of carbohydrate are:

  • Glucose tablets (three 5-gram tablets or four 4-gram tablets)
  • Five pieces of hard candy
  • A tube of glucose gel or frosting gel

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!


Sept. 07, 2012