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Healtheuniversity > English > Diabetes College > Treat Diabetes > Manage Your Blood Sugar > Manage Low Blood Sugar

Manage Low Blood Sugar

Safety Alert!

If you have low blood sugar:

  1. Act quickly. Do not wait.
  2. Stop what you are doing and sit down. Test your blood sugar with your glucometer if you have not already done so.
  3. Eat or drink 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate (such as sugar tablets, juice or pop). Fast acting carbohydrates raise your blood sugar quickly.
  4. Wait 15 minutes.
  5. Test your blood sugar again.
    1. If your blood sugar is still below 4 mmol/L take another 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate.
    2. Wait another 15 minutes and check your blood sugar again. 
    3. Repeat this step until your blood sugar is higher than 4 mmol/L.
  6. When your blood sugar is above 4 mmol/L, eat your usual meal.

You are at high risk for low blood sugar if you:

  • are taking insulin.
  • are taking a medicine from the Secretagogue class of medications like:
    • Diamicron (Gliclazide)
    • Amaryl (Glimepiride)
    • Glyburide (Diabeta)
    • Repaglinide (Gluconorm)
  • start a new exercise program and are prescribed insulin or a medicine from the Secretagogue class of medicines. Learn more about diabetes medicines »
  • have had episodes of low blood sugar in the past.
  • have an A1c of less than 6 percent (%).
  • do not get any of the signs of low blood sugar.

What Do I Do If I Have Low Blood Sugar?

There are two ways to know you have low blood sugar:

  1. you have any signs of low blood sugar, or
  2. your glucometer reading is less than 4.0 mmol/L.

If you have low blood sugar:

  1. Act quickly. Do not wait.
  2. Stop what you are doing and sit down. Test your blood sugar with your glucometer if you have not already done so.
  3. Eat or drink 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate. Fast acting carbohydrates raise your blood sugar quickly.
    Examples of fast acting carbohydrates are:
    • 15 grams of sugar tablets
    • 3/4 cup (175 ml) of juice
    • 3/4 cup (175 ml) regular pop (soft drink)
    • 3 teaspoons or 3 packets of sugar dissolved in water
    • 6 LifeSavers
    • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of honey
  4. Wait 15 minutes.
  5. Test your blood sugar again.
    1. If your blood sugar is still below 4 mmol/L take another 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate.
    2. Wait another 15 minutes and check your blood sugar again. 
    3. Repeat this step until your blood sugar is higher than 4 mmol/L.
  6. When your blood sugar is above 4 mmol/L, eat your usual meal. Follow your regular meal schedule. Have a snack if your meal is more than 1 hour away. This snack should have a slower acting carbohydrate and protein like a slice of wholegrain bread with reduced fat cheese. Slower acting carbohydrates raise your blood sugar slowly over a period of time. This will prevent another episode of low blood sugar.

How Is Severe Low Blood Sugar (Severe Hypoglycemia) Treated?

If you had a severe episode of hypoglycemia in the past, your doctor may tell you to treat any future episodes with greater amounts of fast acting carbohydrate or glucagon (a medicine prescribed by your doctor).

If your blood sugar goes too low you will likely need help. It is crucial that you let your family and friends know how to help you when you can no longer help yourself (for example, you become disoriented, have a seizure or lose consciousness). This is a medical emergency. Wear jewelry that lets people know you have diabetes. A medical alert bracelet is one type of this jewelry. Find out more about medical alert jewelry »

How Do I Learn From a Low Blood Sugar Episode?

Reflect on your low blood sugar episode to help prevent another episode. Use the reflection chart below to answer questions about your low blood sugar episode.

Reflection QuestionsMorningAfternoonEvening

When did I take my diabetes medicine today?

 

   

Am I taking a new medicine?

 

Or is this a different amount of the same medicine?

   

How long did I exercise today?

 

What time did I exercise?

   

What did I eat and drink today?

 

What time did I eat?

   

Take this chart to your doctor, pharmacist or diabetes educator. They can help you make changes to prevent low blood sugar. This can include changes to your medicines, food or exercise.

Last Reviewed: 10/16/2016