Fast Treatment for Low Blood Sugar

By indymlb Latest Reply 2012-01-19 07:00:14 -0600
Started 2011-05-26 09:32:16 -0500

I know there are a million ways to treat low blood sugar…but what works the FASTEST? How long does it take you to recover from low blood sugar? I have run into going from low blood sugar to high blood sugar after treatment because I still feel the effects of low blood sugar. When I'm back to normal but still feel low I end up overdoing it on treatment. Or my sugar ends up too high before my next meal. Needless to say, I feel like crap after the yoyo of low then high blood sugar. Any recommendations would be appreciated!

87 replies

MoeGig 2012-01-18 19:28:49 -0600 Report

A Coke is the fastest for me…maybe the caffein has something to do with it, but after many years of experimenting with just about is definitely the fastest "pause that refreshes" for me.

rmklaus 2012-01-18 19:42:54 -0600 Report

I use Pepsi for my crashes. I have crashed clear down into the 40's and half a can of Pepsi will bring me up into the mid 70's in a few minutes, then I eat something protien like Jerkey or something. I also take Lantus 25 units before bed. I think Lantus helps me not to have high sugars through out the day along with my Novolog.

Caliafiosgram62 2012-01-18 18:28:32 -0600 Report

My lows mainly happen at night because I'm trying for really tight control. My sensor goes off (I've set it for below 80) and when I get up even though the sensor says I'm in the 70's I'm usually in the 40's. I drink about 5 ounces of orange juice and in about 20 minutes I can go back to bed. Then after about half an hour, I'm back above 80 and can go back to sleep.

Tess K.
Tess K. 2012-01-18 14:47:05 -0600 Report

I can tell when I get low, I get shaky, hard to concentrate, I begin to sweat. I usually take the glucose tabs, they work pretty good. I usually start to feel the low when my sugar is in the 50 - 60 range. After the tabs it takes about 8-10 minutes to come back up, i have heard you should eat protein immediately after the low. Has anyone else been told this?

Caitrianna 2012-01-18 15:45:19 -0600 Report

Hi, I am new here and read your post. I was told this recently after finding out I had reactive hypoglycemia after having diabetis for years. I had surgery and lost a lot of weight. The first low I experienced, I thought I was just sick. Didn't feel good, couldn't focus or talk clearly. Sweating, thought I had a fever or something. Shaking, etc., all the same things you talk about. My psych nurse came over at that time and told me to do a sugar and it was 34. I was so scared. I took 4 glucose tabs and 30 mins later it was only in the 70s. So she had me eat a slice of cheese, a boiled egg and some peanut butter. I started feeling better after that, but it was real scary for the first time. She couldn't believe I was still up and moving around, even if I was unsteady. LOL.

Misspearl01 2012-01-18 12:53:13 -0600 Report

I know longer can tell when I am low. I don't find our until I test
Then I freak out cuz I'm in the high 50 low 60 that's starting to get pretty scary

Uncle Lew
Uncle Lew 2012-01-18 10:51:25 -0600 Report

I do not feel the effects of low blood sugar until my number is in the mid 50s and they come on like a speeding freight train. I always carry 4 sugar packets with me (a total of 16 carbs). I just rip them open and swallow. Between 6 and 8 minutes (though it seems like an eternity) the affects are gone. Within 15 minutes my number is around 100 and gives me time to consume something with carbs and protein.
I find the sugar packets work better than tabs as you do not have to chew them.
I also keep juice boxes in the car and at home. They work great but are not always convenient to use.

indymlb 2012-01-18 11:01:00 -0600 Report

I experience the same effects, way too low before I realize it and it does feel like an eternity waiting for the sugar to kick in. Haven't used sugar packets before. Thanks for the tip!

nycutiebaby 2012-01-17 23:39:39 -0600 Report

well i usally drink a coke or juice thats quick but when im really low i take the tabs chew them and put it on my cheack but usually i cup of soda or juice nd i usully take 4 tabs depends on how low but know matter what u will alwys go up one more thing we as diabetics will never be on straight we will nalwys hve up and down we may have good numbers for awhile but then something happends we go up we will alwys be a roller coster but have more good numbers then bad

Darrin D
Darrin D 2011-06-30 18:52:33 -0500 Report

Hi Cherry. I found that half a tablespoon of honey does great. Only half though, cause a full spoon got my bg higher than I liked to fast.

dietcherry 2011-06-30 18:56:54 -0500 Report

Thanks for that Darrin! Ive never tried honey to correct a low but its actually a great idea since honey is so nutritious too!

Diaschm 2011-06-30 16:06:05 -0500 Report

I think I go thru this sometimes and I do not know what to do when I am too high before a meal. I know I need to stay on a schedule so I try to make it a meal of protein and lettuse so I do not add to the problem but then I run the fear of dropping latter on. than I may have to eat a couple of carbs later on so there you go it becomes a merry-go-round. does anyone have an answer for this .

Bill65 2011-06-09 20:12:52 -0500 Report

Hi Indymlb - after my first low, while on vacation in Hawaii, I have started to carry some glucose tablets with me. The ones I use are Walgreens brand. They come in a cylinder container and there are 10 tablets in each.Since my first time, I have had 2 more lows and 2 of these tablets have brought me back in about 10 minutes w/o trying to load up on juice, candy, or any other type of food high with sugar. My wife is aware of where I keep them when we are in public. She also knows where my supply is at home. I hope this helps you out some.

jlively1 2011-06-02 11:58:15 -0500 Report

Okay, I'm hypoglycemic so I really know about low blood sugar. LOL! From my experience real grape juice or real orange juice works the best. Also, when you opt for juice you are not eating refined sugar which is worse for your body.

On a side note I have noticed that after I hit a low, I usually feel like crap the rest of the day even though my glucose levels are "normal". I think getting low really takes a beating on your body and becomes physically draining. Usually I feel much better the next day.

LadyJacquelyn 2011-05-29 06:06:53 -0500 Report

OK First stupid question of the day…How do you know when your sugar is low???

Tigereyze209 2011-05-29 12:49:36 -0500 Report

Well, shakes are a good sign.. I also start feeling anxious, and folks around me start looking at me ask if I'm acting stupid (sadly, I probably am).
Truthfully, if you pay attention to your body's signs, you can learn to tell when you are out of balance.
You can use something sweet to bring your numbers up fast, but in my case, it causes a spike, which triggers me to make more insulin, resulting in only a temporary raise in blood sugar.
It works slower, but the safest I have found is to eat a small snack, rather than something sweet. (my personal favorite is a pack of cheddar cheese crackers.)
Other than that, all I can recommend is, do whatever works best for you.

Shirsi 2011-05-29 05:22:12 -0500 Report

I try not to eat refined sugar so I carry around fruit strips. Not as fast as juice but still concentrated and as good as candy. Sometimes I find those sticks of honey and carry those around. Dont you hate low BS?!

nanaellen 2011-05-27 15:56:34 -0500 Report

My Diabetes nurse said 4 oz.'s of O.J. or carry a small tube of frosting Gel and just a finger full of that works quickly! Plus it tastes good!! Ellen :)

davidvermont 2011-07-19 23:39:17 -0500 Report

I too carry a small tube of frosting

gel because it is more compact when traveling than glucose tabs. But be sure to cut the tip of the applicator in advance.

indymlb 2011-05-27 13:03:40 -0500 Report

Ok..Low sugar of 58 today. Would have tried the Coke but I'm at work and the Coke machine is broken. Figures…lol! Had two glucose tablets and re-checked 20minutes later and my blood sugar was up to 93. But I feel like I'm still really low. Times like this I would eat something like a candy bar and end up having high blood sugar. I WILL NOT GIVE IN! Instead I'm typing this post to keep me from eating that candy bar that's calling my name. I appreciate all the feedback from my original post. Thank you all!

MarkS 2011-05-27 13:07:03 -0500 Report

Hey, just as an fyi chocolate is not a fast acting sugar and will not raise your blood sugar quickly. However, it will do a slow rise in your blood sugar due to the fat.

indymlb 2011-05-27 13:25:22 -0500 Report

Darn it! LOL..I actually knew about that. That's part of the reason I would have high blood sugar later. I've tried to avoid candy bars. Sometimes that's all that's available though. Can do without the fat & calories!

Richard157 2011-05-27 10:03:48 -0500 Report

There is something I have researched called "carb sensitivity". You can Google that topic and read about it. Different people react to a carb in different ways. How much a single carb raises my BG may be very different from yours. You can Google that topic and read about it. By trial and error I have found that 1 carb will typically raise my BG 4 points. This assumes I have no insulin on board, and food from my previous meal or snack is digested. If I have a low of 48 and want to raise my BG to 100, then I need to raise 52 points. I divide 52 by 4 and get 13. Therefore I need 13 carbs. That means I need to use 13 fast acting carbs. My glucose tabs contain 4 carbs. Three tabs have 12 carbs, so I eat 3 tabs and test 20 minutes later. This usually works very well for me. I sometimes use jelly beans. My Star Burst jelly beans have 2 carbs per bean. (I looked that up in the Calorie King.) Six beans would contain 12 carbs, so I could eat the beans instead of glucose tabs. There is no guarantee this will work as well for you as it does for me, it would take some experimenting to get it to work well. By using this technique, I avoid having high blood sugar after eating the carbs. I can feel good very soon after the carbs have taken affect, and don't have to worry about having to correct a high later in the day.

indymlb 2011-05-27 10:12:41 -0500 Report

Excellent information…thank you so much for sharing!

Richard157 2011-05-27 12:24:38 -0500 Report

The results can vary, depending on whether there is any insulin on board from a previous bolus. I allow 50% more carbs if there is insulin on board.

Steam hammer
Steam hammer 2011-05-27 09:40:52 -0500 Report

I know when my sugar gets low I'll drink orange juice and my be a little bite if candy bar but what I found out is if you will eat a piece if bread or some peanut butter thr proteine in it will help keep you sugar up when it's low.

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2011-05-27 08:49:58 -0500 Report

Okay, now this is not a medical suggestion, but a "Jim thinks that this would work". My guess is that a real quick way to recover from low BS would be to drink some Coke (not sniff the white powered stuff, but the soda!) Why do I think this? First, it has lots of sugar. Second, it has fizz. Third, it has caffeine.
You need the sugar and the carbonation and caffeine help to deliver it to the blood stream quickly. Now, I am not talking about a 2 liter bottle, or even a 12 oz can. I would start with a cup 4-8oz or 4-8 swigs from a can or bottle, sit down, and re-test in 15 minutes. This should give you a base to work from next time. If in 15 or 30 minutes you are to high, reduce the amount of Coke. If too low, increase it. In my mind, what you want to avoid is going too far in the other direction. Hope this helps, Jim

scribbles 2011-05-29 06:48:18 -0500 Report

Y'all are working too hard. Coke has come in 6oz. cans for over a year. I personally don't like coke products but have a few of the small cans scattered around for crashes. To find the small cans, check the soda aisle at the grocery store. I got mine at Kroger.

granniesophie 2011-05-27 09:39:15 -0500 Report

Actually, Jim, yes! My health nurse from the military base told me that about half a can of real Pepsi or Coke was about right to get the BS back into the normal range if you go low. Not the whole can, just about 6 to 8 ounces. I had been doing this on my own, and it was working really fast, and when I finally got through to the base to make an appointment, you talk to the nurse first, and she said I had done the correct thing! Yay, me!!!
Not an excuse to drink a whole can of real soda, but it does work! And it really tastes awful-way too sweet!

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2011-05-27 09:43:12 -0500 Report

On occasion I will take a sip of my wife's Coke/Pepsi and I can't believe she can drink it. And to think it was a staple at one time. I am so glad when a "Jim thinks this would work" actually works! It lets me know that I can still think! LOL

granniesophie 2011-05-27 11:53:54 -0500 Report

Yeah, I know! I used to love my Pepsi! Now if I ever need any, I look at it like medicine. I rarely drink diet either, it's not the same, and I just don't want it.
Funny how the taste of stuff we used to swear by now tastes too sweet to us. Now, I wonder about the Double Stuf Oreos???

MoeGig 2011-05-26 22:14:22 -0500 Report

This is a problem I deal with more often than I care to. The lower you BG is, the more you will bounce. If you're not extremely low (less than 60), than a 16 oz bottle of Gatorade will do me (40 grams approx). If I'm below 60, and still conscious) , I need a Coke…which to me is the best stuff to pull you out quickly…maybe it's the added caffein that gives it a boost. You do have to be careful to over-correct, and oddly enough, you may have to take a little booster shot if you bounce over 200 so it doesn't jump to 350. That's what I do. My ultimate solution is to try to stay on a minimum/low carb diet so I can minimize the amount of humalog (instant) insulin I take. I try to stay in control with Lantus only…which really means hardly any carbs. Trying to shoot Humalog to make up for carb intake is what creates the lows, for me. Lantus, gives you easy lows, and you can see them coming a mile away. Humalog/Novalog is like dynamite…Boom, you're Low…:>(

indymlb 2011-05-27 09:16:12 -0500 Report

I am on Lantus & Novalog. Know what you mean about the lows from Humalog! Thank you very much for your input!

davidvermont 2011-05-26 23:52:31 -0500 Report

Moe = wondering how much Lantus you take and when you take it.
With the approval of my endocrinologist, I substantially incresed my bedtime lantus dose and now use hardly any novolog (Fast acting) during the day. My BG is much more even and I bounce around much less.

MoeGig 2011-05-27 06:08:37 -0500 Report

Hi David: I take 20 units of Lantus in the am and 5 units at night. Even if my sugar is a little high in the evening (200 or so), I don't take any Humalog to counter act it, the 5 units works overnight to get me straight for the am.

davidvermont 2011-05-27 07:22:15 -0500 Report

Thanks for the response Moe. I take a much larger dose (50 units) once a day, at bedtime. I could probably take less if I was never "bad" with my diet or physically more active. I really prefer the lantus to the novolog fast acting.

dietcherry 2011-05-26 23:16:06 -0500 Report

Hi Moe…I have read before about you just taking the Lantus and you have me curious to try it myself since I experience rapid lows resulting in seizures too often (even on Humulin R which my Endo and I thought would be good for me to stay on); wondering if you would recommend this to others?

Chrisiine 2011-06-30 17:57:04 -0500 Report

Every one is different I know how mine works I take 6u humalog before meals and 25 levemir at bed time. I f I'm 130 at bed time I drink Gluco Burst Nutritional Shake for people with diabetes then I wake with 110-113. I plan my meals each day . So what works for one don't always work for others. I f I drink a coke I know I will go high

dietcherry 2011-06-30 18:48:53 -0500 Report

Yes I know we're all different Christine :) Moe and I are long-term T1's and were discussing both of our propensities for lows with seizures and how he decided to limit fast-acting insullin and just use the Lantus to try and correct that

MoeGig 2011-05-27 06:15:33 -0500 Report

Absolutely. I went through a period having acute lows with seizures, etc…definitely not fun (and actually quite dangerous). After a while, you have to be your own doctor and adjust doses without having to call your endo. The final arbiter is a good A1c with no acute lows. I also don't aim too low with the A1c, under 7 is good enough. When I use to aim for 6 or less, I would end up with many more lows to get to that number.

dietcherry 2011-06-09 15:35:45 -0500 Report

Okay so I take 30 units of Lantus and 15-20 units of R daily; if I cut out the R, how much would I need to increase the Lantus by? Is there a rule of thumb? On a side note, Ive experienced 1 seizure and a handful of severe lows since being on the Lantus and I attribute it to the Lantus, not the R, since I dont use much R at all. Thanks for your help!

MoeGig 2011-06-09 17:28:20 -0500 Report

Have no idea, but that would be a lot of R for me. I take 30 units of Lantus, but the Doc suggested I break it up into two shots…25 am and 5 pm. I'm lucky if I take 5 units of Humalog (like R) all day. Most days I try and do without…except just got back from PF Chang's where our son likes to go…it will require some H tonight. Off to go deliver a boat to Newport RI from Annapolis…won't be on this site much for a week. Have a good one.

MarkS 2011-05-26 21:43:54 -0500 Report

From some on-line training I've had from Medtronic, if your blood glucose is between 50 and 70 you need 15 grams of carbohydrate to get your blood sugar above 80. There are various carbs that are good, but I use 5 jelly beans (gumb drops and gummy bears work well, too). After 15 minutes check your blood glucose and if its still below your target (mine's 80) then repeat. If its below 50 then you need to have about 25 grams of carbohydrates (8 oz of orange juice). Check your blood glucose in 15 minutes and repeat either scenario again depending upon what your reading was. As for the glucagon, it should be used only in case of severe hypoglycemia (as in when you are no responsive) by someone other than yourself. Treating in this manner should help avoid the rebound effect where your blood glucose spikes hyperglycemic.

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2011-05-27 09:00:10 -0500 Report

Thanks Mark. That is the first time I have heard how many carbs it takes to raise your BS by 20-25 points, instead of my panic solution which usually gets it up to 200! The first time my BS dropped sharply and unexpectedly I was in Lowes. Didn't know what was happening as I had checked it 45 minutes before and it was 135. Went back to the truck and tested it, because I had no idea of why I felt so strange. 72! Now, how long would it be before I went into a diabetic coma and died on the parking lot? Don't know, didn't wait around. Went to ChickFilet got a large chocolate shake, large Coke and a sandwich. Felt better pretty quick. got back to work an hour later and checked my BS to find it had gone up to 325! Didn't know, and didn't want to know if it was still going up or on its way back down. I still tend to overdo it when it drops, but I now use food and the carbs in it, rather than the straight sugars of coke & ice cream. I laugh about it now, not then! Jim

Chrisiine 2011-06-30 18:03:20 -0500 Report

1 tbs peanut butter and cracker helps in about 15 min. that helps for me maybe not for you its slow not real fast raise

MarkS 2011-05-27 09:50:47 -0500 Report

As kdroberts states it is a lot of trial and error. Lord knows I've had times when I drop quickly and get totally confused, which is typically when I need help from someone else. As for death by diabetic coma, with blood glucose monitors and better awareness of diabetes by the general populations its rare.

indymlb 2011-05-27 08:14:15 -0500 Report

Thank you for the info! I knew to start with 15 grams of carbs but did not know about increasing to 25 grams if blood sugar was below 50. I appreciate your reply!

kdroberts 2011-05-27 08:20:56 -0500 Report

It's not a had and fast rule, it will be based on how your body reacts and any medications you have taken. Some people could be at 30 and only need 10g, others may be at the same and need 50g. Like everything related to diabetes, it's trial and error.

Somoca 2011-05-26 15:41:46 -0500 Report

Glucose tabs work but I have yet to have anything work quicker than a piece of regular sugar candy (in my case). I am not encouraging it, just saying that when I have lows its usually because I put off eating and BAM, I get the sweats, incoherent and seeing two of everything and my friends forget I have tablets and they shove a musketeer in my mouth and 5-10 mins. I can hear the words coming out of everyone's mouth again.

Type1Lou 2011-05-26 15:22:10 -0500 Report

I have the same problem with over-treating my lows. Glucose tabs work for me but they take about 20 minutes before I start feeling the effects…it's hard not to keep shoveling in the food because you feel awful during that 20 minute interval and worry that it might be getting worse instead of better. I'll go from a reading in the 40's to over 300 after treating the low. Yesterday, at 10 am, I tested at 57 and ate one granola bar. By lunchtime, my BG was 198; not so bad since I was able to stop at one granola bar. Because I'm on insulin, I can usually adjust my next dose and get the BG back down but I want/need to get off this roller coaster. It's very frustrating. The solution for me may lie in going on the pump…a definite possibility in the next few months.

jlively1 2011-06-02 12:03:38 -0500 Report

That's one of my issues too; I keep shoveling in the food. When I get low I feel like I'm starving to death.

kdroberts 2011-05-26 11:31:26 -0500 Report

The fastest way is glucagon but it should only be used in an emergency. The fastest general way is liquid glucose (this is not the same as fruit juice) closely followed by glucose tablets.

If your blood sugar is not low but you feel low, try to ride it out or take a single glucose tablet. Treating lows is not a science and not really easy to get it right. It's easy to get your blood sugar up but not to get it up without getting it too high.

dietcherry 2011-05-26 23:21:15 -0500 Report

Kd if you dont mind me asking you…I sometimes vomit after using glucose tabs for my frequent lows but not after taking just liquid, which is usually apple juice; any idea why this may be? My Endo just kinda shrugs it off when I question him. And I realize it could just be a coincidence and not dependent on what im ingesting at all…

kdroberts 2011-05-27 07:39:33 -0500 Report

Look at the ingredients, maybe you are allergic to a coloring, flavoring or other ingredient.

dietcherry 2011-06-30 16:39:16 -0500 Report

I just saw this kd and I think youre on to something. Ive used only the grape-flavored for the longest time and thinking back, this may be when it started happening Thanks for your help!

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