Hypoglycemia Treatment

Treatment for low blood glucose depends on your symptoms and causes

Your treatment plan for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) depends on what is causing your blood sugar level to drop too low. As you can learn in the causes article, hypoglycemia causes fall into two categories: low blood glucose caused by diabetes and low blood glucose not caused by diabetes.

Diabetes-related Hypoglycemia
If your hypoglycemia is caused by certain medications used for diabetes (people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can become hypoglycemic), your healthcare professional may suggest several things to help you treat hypoglycemia when it happens. He or she may also suggest adjustments in your diabetes treatment plan to help you prevent hypoglycemia.

The doctor may suggest:

  • Medication (e.g., insulin certain oral medications) dose adjustment: This may also include changing when you take your medication.
  • Working with a dietitian to develop or adjust your meal plan: A dietitian can help you figure out a good meal plan—for example, one that maintains consistency in carbohydrates at meals. A dietitian can also help you learn how to count grams of carbohydrates so that you can better plan your medication and/or insulin.
  • Increase (or more closely follow) self-monitoring of blood glucose levels: Knowing your blood glucose level throughout the day—when you get up, before meals, after meals, etc.—can help you avoid going low.
  • Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages: Alcohol can affect the way your body metabolizes glucose, so if you're already prone to hypoglycemia, you should cut back on how much alcohol you drink.
  • Carry glucose tablets (dextrose) or hard candy: With your healthcare professional's recommendation, make sure you always have glucose tablets or hard candy with you. You can stick them in your briefcase, purse, car, at your desk, school locker, etc. 15 minutes after eating the tablets or candy you will need to recheck your blood sugar. If your blood sugar has not returned to normal, you will need to give yourself glucose again. If you are having trouble raising your blood sugar to normal, you should contact your doctor.
  • To help bring blood sugar levels back to normal, an adult (with their healthcare professional's recommendation) can consume one of the following:
    • 1/2 cup fruit juice
    • 1/2 cup cola or soft drink (not sugar-free variety)
    • 1 cup milk

Safety tip: Wear medical identification (e.g., a bracelet or necklace) that tells others you have diabetes. Then, if you do become hypoglycemic, people may be better able to help you.

Contact your endocrinologist or healthcare professional to discuss your health changes, concerns, and/or questions.

Hypoglycemia Not Caused by Diabetes
If you experience multiple episodes of hypoglycemia and you don't have diabetes, your doctor will try to figure out what's causing your blood glucose to go too low. With that information, he or she is better able to suggest a treatment plan.

Your treatment plan may include lifestyle changes to help you avoid hypoglycemia. You'll also need to learn how to treat hypoglycemia as soon as you notice symptoms.

Hypoglycemia treatments may include:

  • Self-monitor your blood glucose: This is something that people with diabetes do, but if you have many episodes of hypoglycemia, the doctor may suggest you check your blood glucose level throughout the day for awhile, at least until your hypoglycemia is well controlled. Self-monitoring your blood glucose level should give you an idea of what makes your blood glucose level drop.
  • Work with a dietitian to develop or adjust your meal plan: What you eat plays a big part in your blood glucose level. A dietitian can teach you about healthy, well-balanced food choices that will make it easier for you to maintain an acceptable blood glucose range.
  • Carry glucose tablets (dextrose), hard candy, and/or other snacks: With your doctor's recommendation, make sure you always have glucose tablets or hard candy with you. You can stick them in your briefcase, purse, car, at your desk, school locker, etc. You may also want to keep snacks on hand—for example, cheese or peanut butter crackers.

Contact your endocrinologist or healthcare professional to discuss your health changes, concerns, and/or questions.

View Sources

Sources

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  • Hypoglycemia page.  Mayo Clinic Health Information Web site.  Available at:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypoglycemia/DS00198.  Accessed May 5, 2009.
  • Hypoglycemia page.  National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) Web site.    Available at:  http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/hypoglycemia/.  Accessed May 5, 2009.
  • Kronenberg HM, Melmed Shlomo, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR.  Chapter 33, Glucose Homeostasis and Hypoglycemia.  In:  Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, 11th Ed.  St. Louis, MO: W. B. Saunders Company (Elsevier);2008.
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