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How should I use oral glucose?

Oral glucose most commonly comes as a tablet or gel. Your doctor, nurse, dietitian or diabetes educator can help you know how much oral glucose you safely need to treat an episode of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The amount of oral glucose you need depends on your blood sugar level, the time of day, when you took your last dose of diabetes medication, when you last ate and when you plan to eat again, your size and body weight, and your planned level of physical activity. Chewable tablets should be chewed for a while before you swallow them. You may need a second dose if your low blood sugar symptoms don't improve within 15 minutes.
William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Break glass in case of emergency.


Oral glucose is a fast, simple, effective, and cheap treatment for low blood sugar. Anyone who takes insulin should always carry some on their person at all times. Well, OK, not when you are in the bath tub, but the rest of the time.


If you take diabetes meds that have a risk of low blood sugar, like glipizide, you should also carry glucose.


The two most common forms of oral glucose are tablets and liquids.


The tablets are larger than you might expect, chalky in the mouth, and generally taste pretty nasty. But they are highly portable and cheap enough that you can have caches in various locations (car, night stands, office desk drawer).


The liquids come in small bottles that hold two fluid ounces of high-tech sugar water.


The advantage of the liquids are that they are very, very fast, taste pretty good, and are a set amount of glucose. If you rely on Skittles instead, you risk going crazy and eating more than you need to treat your low and end up high instead. The disadvantages of liquids are that they are more costly, a little larger than tablets, and can be tricky to open when you are low enough that your hands are shaking. I recommend that you remove the safety seal well in advance.


Oral glucose also comes in paste, or jell a form, often carried by our loved ones. If you get so low you can’t safely swallow, someone who loves you can rub oral glucose jell into the inside of your cheek and the glucose will be absorbed into your blood stream. Anyone who does this for you really deserves a big bouquet of flowers or tickets to a ball game.


For most lows, the starting place is 15 grams of sugar. This is generally three tablets or one bottle of liquid. Wait fifteen of the longest minutes of your life and retest your blood sugar. If you are not higher, take a second 15 grams. Important note: it is not necessary to be back to normal after 15 minutes, but simply on the rise.


So you can see that for safety, you really need to carry either six tablets or two bottles with you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.