President and CEOOfficers of the CorporationBoard of TrusteesLeadership CouncilHistory
Managing DiabetesChildhood DiabetesNutritionExerciseOnline Diabetes ClassesDiscussion BoardsInfo for Healthcare ProfessionalsJoslin Clinical Guidelines50-Year Medalist Program
Adult ClinicPediatricsEye CareBillingInfo for Healthcare ProfessionalsDiabetes Information & Resources
Clinical Research50-Year Medalist Study
Media RelationsNews ReleasesInside JoslinSocial Media
Affiliated CentersPharma & DeviceCorporate EducationPublicationsProfessional EducationInternational
Give NowGet InvolvedEventsTributes & Special OccasionsCorporate & Foundation EngagementLegacy GivingWays to GivePhilanthropy TeamPublications

How To Treat A Low Blood Glucose

A blood glucose of less than 70 mg/dl in general is considered a low blood glucose.

Because you may feel some of the symptoms of low blood glucose when your glucose is normal, be sure, if possible, to check your blood glucose when you think it is low. The symptoms of a low blood glucose are:

  • Sweaty and shaky
  • Weak
  • Headache
  • Confused
  • Irritable
  • Hungry
  • Pale
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Uncoordinated

If your blood glucose is low, follow the steps below to treat:

  • Follow the 15-15 rule: Eat or drink something from the list below equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate (carb).
  • Rest for 15 minutes, then re-check your blood glucose. If it is still low, (below 70), repeat step 1 above.
  • If your next meal is more than an hour away, you will need to eat one carbohydrate choice as a snack to keep your blood glucose from going low again.
  • If you can't figure out why you have low blood glucose, call your healthcare provider, as your medicine may need to be adjusted.
  • Always carry something with you to treat an insulin reaction. Use food from the list below.

Foods equal to One Carbohydrate Choice (15 grams of carb):

  • 3 Glucose  tablets or 4 Dextrose tablets
  • 4 ounces of fruit juice
  • 5-6 ounces (about 1/2 can) of regular soda such as Coke or Pepsi 
  • 7-8 gummy or regular Life Savers 
  • 1 Tbsp. of sugar or jelly

Call your doctor

Call your doctor or healthcare provider if you have a low blood glucose reaction and do not know what caused it.

If you pass out

If you have type 1 diabetes and you do not take care of low blood glucose, you may pass out. If you do, a drug called glucagon should be injected into your skin, like you do with insulin. This can be done by a family member or friend who has been taught how to do it. Since glucagon may cause you to vomit, you should be placed on your side when the injection is given. If no one knows how to give the injection, you should be taken to a hospital.

You need a prescription for a glucagon kit.

You should awaken about 10 minutes after the glucagon is injected. If you do not, you should be taken at once to a hospital.

Page last updated: November 07, 2019