Blood glucose lows (hypoglycemia) can come on fast, so you’ll want to be prepared. People with type 1 diabetes frequently have mild lows, while people with type 2 diabetes can also develop hypoglycemia if they take certain medications, such as insulin and sulfonylureas. Soft drinks and fruit juice can treat lows, but there are also products specifically designed to provide glucose for lows. These glucose sources are fat free, which may help speed the absorption of sugar, and the carbohydrate grams are counted for you. Glucose products come in a variety of flavors and forms, including tablets, gels, liquids, and bits. In addition to the name-brand products listed below, store brands are also available.
The Rule of 15
You’ve probably heard of the “rule of 15.” This memory device can be helpful in treating lows, but it’s just a starting point. Individualize your treatment plan for hypoglycemia with the help of your health care provider. For example, you may need slightly less or slightly more carbohydrate grams, or you may find that liquids work faster than chewables.
- If you feel a low coming on or have a glucose reading less than 70 mg/dl, eat or drink 15 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate.
- Wait 15 minutes.
- Test blood glucose. If levels are still less than 70 mg/dl, eat or drink another 15 grams of carbohydrate.
- Repeat until levels get back up above 70 mg/dl.
- Depending on your activity level and the amount of insulin in your body, you may need to eat a meal or snack to prevent another episode of hypoglycemia.
If a low is so severe that a person loses the ability to self-treat, an injection of glucagon—available in a prescription kit—from a friend, family member, or coworker can rapidly raise blood glucose levels. Do not give food or drink to a person who is unconscious or is unable to swallow. Eli Lilly offers a free app for Apple devices on how to administer glucagon.