University of California San Francisco | About UCSF | UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
Search Site | Find a Doctor

Treating Low Blood Sugar

You are at risk of having a low blood sugar reaction if you:

  • Skip or delay a meal or snack
  • Take too much insulin or eat too few carbohydrates
  • Exercise
  • Drink alcohol, especially without eating carbohydrates

Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Weakness and/or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Shaking
  • Increased heartbeat

If your blood sugar is less than 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl):

  • Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate (sample foods listed below)
  • Wait 15 minutes and then recheck your blood sugar
  • If your blood sugar is still less than 100 mg/dl, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate and retest your blood sugar in another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.

Important: If you have frequent low blood sugars speak to your doctor. You may need changes in your medication and/or meal plan.

Quick Carbohydrate Guide for Treating Low Blood Sugars

If your blood sugar is less than 70 mg/dl, you need 15 to 30 grams of a quickly absorbed carbohydrate, like the ones listed below. Each of the following servings provides 15 grams of carbohydrate.

Candies and Other Sweets

  • 5 small gum drops
  • 12 gummy bears
  • 6 large jelly beans
  • 5 Life Savers
  • 15 Skittles
  • 1 Tablespoon honey, jam or jelly
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar in water
  • 4 Starburst

Beverages

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup orange or grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup regular soda (not diet)
  • 1/3 cup grape juice
  • 1/3 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/3 cup prune juice
  • 1 cup fat free milk

Fruits

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 small orange
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons of raisins
  • 15 grapes

Other

  • 3 to 4 glucose tablets
  • 1 tube glucose gel

Note: The foods listed above are easily absorbed and will raise blood sugar levels quickly. Foods that contain protein or fat — such as chocolate, candy bars, ice cream, cookies, crackers and bread — don't raise blood sugar quickly enough.

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Nutrition Counseling Clinic at Mount Zion
1701 Divisadero St., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143-0310
Appointments: (415) 353-4174
Office: (415) 353-2291
Fax: (415) 353-2648