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
- Drink alcohol, especially without eating carbohydrates
Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms:
- Weakness and/or fatigue
- 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
- 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
- 1/2 banana
- 1 small apple
- 1 small orange
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- 15 grapes
- 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.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Foods containing carbohydrates become glucose or blood sugar when digested, and controlling blood sugar is important if you have diabetes. Learn more now.
Carbohydrates and Diabetes
Carb counting is a useful tool for people who have diabetes. Balancing carbohydrates and insulin helps keep your blood sugars in a healthy range. Learn more.
Are you counting your carbohydrate intake? Use this list of foods, each of which has been measured to about 15 carbs, to help in your efforts.