5 ways to treat low blood sugar

5 ways to treat low blood sugar

There are many ways I have treated a low blood glucose (BG) over the 10 plus years I have lived with type 1 diabetes, and I’ve determined how quickly my body reacts to particular items. Depending on my low, I use a different item to treat it, but always aim for 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrates. For example, if my blood sugar is beginning to trend low, then I will treat with candy, but if my blood sugar is already low (below 70 mg/dL for myself), I will treat with juice. However, I always try to be prepared and have either candy, juice, or glucose tabs with me at all times. 

Below are five different ways I treat a low blood sugar.

1. Hard candy

When I receive a Low Predicted Alert from my MiniMed 530G that my blood sugar is beginning to trend low, I will grab hard candy, such as a bag of Skittles, and eat about 15 pieces. Over my 10+ years of living with type 1 diabetes, I have been able to estimate the amount of Skittles needed to raise my blood sugar to my desired levels. I prefer using hard candy to help treat a low because they are easy to carry and store. For example, my wife always carries a small ziplock bag full of them in her purse. That way, no matter where we are, if a low blood sugar hits, I am prepared. I also take a small bag with me whenever I travel, golf, attend meetings, etc.


2. Juice

Juice is my preferred method of treating a low when my blood sugar levels have gone below 70 mg/dL and are trending low. I prefer this method because it is fast acting for me. For example, in the middle of the night, if I have a low blood sugar and wake up from the Threshold Suspend alarm, I know I need glucose fast, so will drink a half cup of orange juice, apple juice, or any other type of juice we have in the house at that particular time. Also, if I am going to be in a long meeting, playing a round of golf, or even on a plane, I will be sure to have some sort of access to juice.


3. Soda

I use regular soda to treat a low similar to how I use juice. If soda is available instead of juice, then I just switch the two out. However, there is a more specific time I use regular soda to treat a low blood sugar. For example, if I am heading to a restaurant and I’m going low and I don’t feel like I have enough time until the food comes, I will order a regular soda. And since there are so many different options of regular soda than diet, I also treat this as an opportunity to indulge in the flavors of soda I don’t usually have the pleasures of enjoying.


4. Glucose tabs

I carry glucose tabs with me everywhere I go; they’re easy to carry and store. As with all of these different ways to treat a low, I use glucose tabs for specific situations. If my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) shows I am at the very bottom of my low range, but I know I am not going to be eating for a while or will be doing some form of activity, then I test my BG and then eat a few glucose tabs. The amount is based on my 10 years of personal experience of how my body reacts to glucose tabs.


5. Glucose gel packs

I don’t frequently use glucose gel packs, but they are an effective way to treat a low blood sugar. I have used this in the past in a situation where my blood sugar was at an extreme low, and I did not have the strength to chew hard candy or drink juice. These can also be carried and stored pretty easily like glucose tabs. 

What are some of the ways or special indulgences that you use to treat a low blood sugar? Whichever way you chose to raise your BG level, try to not overtreat, as it could leave you with high BG levels.


Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is intended for the delivery of insulin and continuous glucose monitoring for the management of diabetes mellitus by persons 16 years of age or older who require insulin. 
Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately. 
The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is not intended to be used directly for preventing or treating hypoglycemia but to suspend insulin delivery when the user is unable to respond to the Threshold Suspend alarm and take measures to prevent or treat hypoglycemia themselves. 
Please visit MedtronicDiabetes.com/isi for more details. 
WARNING: The Threshold Suspend feature will cause the pump to temporarily suspend insulin delivery for two hours when the sensor glucose reaches a set threshold. Under some conditions of use the pump can suspend again resulting in very limited insulin delivery. Prolonged suspension can increase the risk of serious hyperglycemia, ketosis, and ketoacidosis. Before using the Threshold Suspend feature, it is important to read the Threshold Suspend information in the MiniMed 530G System User Guide and discuss proper use of the Threshold Suspend feature with your healthcare provider.

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Submitted by Susan (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Glucagon should be included on this list.

Submitted by Deion D. Strong (not verified) on

In reply to by Susan (not verified)

In my experience, "Glucagon" is ONLY USEFUL, If : (YOUR Family is WILLING Too "Give the Injection") None of my family is willing to give the (★Injection★), SO BUYING that Treatment IS A WASTE !*!!!!

Submitted by Kathy (not verified) on

In reply to by Deion D. Strong (not verified)

wow! You are fortunate to have cont. glucose monitoring! If it weren't for my husband giving me Glucagon prior to getting the sensor I would have had multiple ambulance rides for hypoglycemia! Many mornings I never woke up due to hypoglycemia. I do not miss those mornings!

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Kathy (not verified)

Kathy, I’m glad you’re doing well on continuous glucose monitoring. It sounds like your husband has been very supportive and a wonderful caregiver for you. I wish you both the best.

Submitted by Mignonne (not verified) on

In reply to by Deion D. Strong (not verified)

Glucagon should always be kept handy. It would be used in the event someone is unconscious. Your family should be taught how to use this in case of emergency.

Also, protein (peanut butter/cheese) should be used in addition to a fast acting carb when treating a low, so that you do not experience a low later.

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Mignonne (not verified)

Mignonne, it’s always a good idea for one’s family to be trained on how to administer glucagon in case of an emergency. Thank you for sharing your low tips with us!

Submitted by Jill (not verified) on

In reply to by Deion D. Strong (not verified)

Before my 530G with Enlite and Threshold suspend, I would mainly have lows in the middle of the night while I slept. Many times when I did wake up, I was so low it wasn't funny. There have been times when my bg registered 20 or below on my meter, while I was still aware. For that reason, I always keep Glucagon in the house because I never know if I have forgotten to calibrate my CGM in the middle of the night. And while it's use is primarily when one is unconscious, I have used it myself a few times when I was so low I knew that I could run the risk of slipping into unconsciousness if I couldn't get my bg high enough, quick enough. Glucagon alone is not an option, it only gets what little sugar is stored away out and working. Once your bg is up enough and you are aware and can eat, you should also follow it with some carbs or some sort. If not 911 should be called.

Submitted by Katie. Moran (not verified) on

In reply to by Jill (not verified)

I need the Enlite sensors for my mini-med.

Priority health won't cover them.

Do you know a source that I can get these and will get help for paying for them.
I can't afford them without insurance coverage.

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Katie. Moran (not verified)

Hi Katie, we offer financial assistance to those who qualify, which you can learn more about here - http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/customer-support/ordering-and-billing/…. Please let us know if you have any other questions or if you would like to be connected with a team member to learn about your options.

Submitted by Ron (not verified) on

In reply to by Deion D. Strong (not verified)

My wife is too quick to use glucagon, but it has helped many times. However, there have been times when it just didn't work either. Since I have been on Medicare, which doesn't cover the CGM, I can't use it as frequently as I would like. There is also the problem of running out of space, using both the infusion set and CGM.

Contrary to the author of this article, I never use candy or soda because, in my 61 years of dealing with diabetes, it has always caused my BG to spike. But, I always carry glucose tablets and a glucose gel pack that has 15 gm of carbs. OJ is the one of fastest, if available, followed up with peanut butter to keep my BG up.

Submitted by Scott (not verified) on

In reply to by Susan (not verified)

I thought glucagon was for an emergency and you're unconscious.

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Scott (not verified)

That’s right, Scott. Glucagon should be used to counteract severe hypoglycemia that causes loss of consciousness, or if sugar cannot be given.

What I try to do is to take something in anticipation of going low. For example if I am around 130 on the way down and I am going to walk around some, I will shut off my basal for an hour or so or if I know that I am going to go low I take some glucose tabs or a Costco energy bar. Also with the CGM and the connect, it is possible to Keep track ofmy blood sugar visually.

Richard, thank you for sharing your tips with us. I’m glad you’ve found what works best for you when going low.

Submitted by Robin Suarez (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I use the same methods mentioned in this article, but I go straight for the soda if I am low and still have active insulin. Most times when I have active insulin and go low and use anything else I continue to drop and have to treat more than once.
I do carry Glucagon with me at all times and have trained my family and a few co-workers on how to administer it...at least those who were willing to use it.

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Robin Suarez (not verified)

Robin, kudos to you for taking the initiative to train your family and co-workers how to administer glucagon in case of an emergency. I’m sure it’s comforting having them educated on this. Thanks for sharing your tips and experiences with us!

Submitted by Kimberly A. (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I have found for me that milk works best. The lactose brings my blood sugar up and the protein keeps me from crashing again. I recently started with the pump after having diabetes for 30+ years. I LOVE my CBGM it has saved me from going so low. Juice makes me go up and crash back down lower than previously, in the event I was unable to get a protein snack.

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Kimberly A. (not verified)

Kimberly, I’m glad you’ve found what works best for bringing your sugar levels back up and keeping you from crashing. It’s great to hear you’re doing well on CGM. Keep up the good work!

Submitted by Kenzie (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Popping a handful of skittles or guzzling soda every time your blood sugar is low is ridiculous. Disappointed in this article. Not impressed.

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Kenzie (not verified)

Thanks for your feedback, Kenzie. We understand that all people living with diabetes have their own unique experiences and continue to try to meet the needs of our community in a variety of ways.

Submitted by Rachel (not verified) on

In reply to by LOOP Blog Editorial

When I was a student at the Joslin Diabetes Center, they informed all students that the best thing to do when blood sugars are getting extremely low is to guzzle a large glass of milk. Most people can drink milk faster than they can drink juice, so I drink milk. If I am able, I eat cookies or a peanut butter sandwich after guzzling the milk. My doctor also says to eat protein with your carbs to keep your food intake balanced.

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Rachel (not verified)

This is very interesting, Rachel. Thanks for sharing your insights with us!

Submitted by Betty Pastir (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

We have been told numerous times "the CGM is not the best way to treat Mike's diabetes." I am wondering just what is? He has been Type 1 for 55 years and on the MiniMed insulin pump for 17 years, which we both credit with saving his life numerous times, but the CGM would be so very much more useful since when his BG drops below 110 he can bottom out in a matter of 30 minutes and for the last 2+ years he has lost the ability to tell when he is dropping. In August we got our family angel, Paris, a 2-year-old black lab, who just happens to be a diabetic alert dog and since August has alerted at least 3 times and at those times the blood sugar was under 50, again life saving . However, if he had the CGM these probably could have been avoided. Why is it that Medicare will not pay for the CGM?

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Betty Pastir (not verified)

Hi Betty, I understand this can be frustrating. Please know that Medtronic is actively working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ultimately establish coverage consistent with other healthcare insurance companies in the US. Our goal is to ensure consistent access for CGM and insulin pump therapy for all who can benefit. The first step is to work with CMS to assign CGM to a benefit category. We are excited to work this through with industry partners and will keep the community updated.

Submitted by Alan (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I have had type 1 for 34 years and have had battles with low sugars my entire life. I upgraded my pump recently to incorporate the enlite sensors in my daily regimen. The sensors have not functioned to my satisfaction, the pump has told me my blood sugar was 264, and after a blood check, it was 67. Had I boloused as the sensor/meter had said, I would have ended up in an extreme hypoglysimic state. I have excellent control of my diabetes, so much that my most recent A1C test was 4.8. My doctor suggested that I stop using the enlite sensors and continue blood tests instead. I'm curious if anyone else has run into this type of problem/issue.

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Alan (not verified)

Alan, I’m sorry to hear you have had trouble with the Enlite sensor. I know you’re not currently using a sensor but if you’d like to talk to someone from our HelpLine team to see if they can help please let me know. I’d be happy to connect you.

Submitted by Sondra (not verified) on

In reply to by Alan (not verified)

ALL THE TIME. I have gone back for training twice They just told me this is as good as it gets and to never give insulin off a cgm reading only a finger stick.

Submitted by Sondra (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I always take honey packets with me whenever I go out . You don't have to swallow them so someone else can do it for you. (I always choke on glucose tabs)
If you put the honey under your tongue it absorbs through the cells in your mouth. It is even a little faster than drinking juice.

Most of the time I need 2 honey packets to treat a low. Every so often I need 3.

Submitted by Garrett (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I like Gatorade. Those ones at the store that are 12oz and have about 20g of carbs...

Submitted by Goms (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

First of all thanks for sharing your treatment with type one diabetes, If will follow this routine and foods definitely we will overcome this kind of situation of type 1, thanks for sharing with us

Submitted by Ed Budnick (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Yes I just found out recently I have a low blood sugar and just donot know what I should do about this at all could someone help me out with this!

Submitted by Karrie Hawbaker (not verified) on

In reply to by Ed Budnick (not verified)

Ed, I'm sorry to hear you experienced a low blood sugar and I hope you are feeling better now. Our 24-Hour HelpLine is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss any questions or concerns about your insulin pump/CGM. You can reach them at 800.646.4633, option 1. I also recommend reaching out to your healthcare team for their direction on treating a low blood sugar event.

Submitted by Anthony Lorenz (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Type 1 since 1972. I am so use to lows that anything above 50 is of never concern. Thanks to the CGM, I have been on it for 3 months, it’s great at at spotting the downturn in order to take corrective action early. Suspending basal is one of my options. OJ is the go to for me, and milk second. Granola bars are good too. Don’t laugh, but it’s a wonder what two Oreos will do too! How do you stop a bolus? I am on the 670G model.

Submitted by Karrie Hawbaker (not verified) on

In reply to by Anthony Lorenz (not verified)

I'm thrilled to hear you are doing well with your MiniMed 670G system. The steps for stopping a bolus delivery depend on what type of bolus you have selected. you can learn more from your user guide, starting on page 114. You can find a link to the user guide here: http://bit.ly/2O7HzHs

Submitted by Charlie Noah (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Low blood sugar is referred to as Hypoglycemia in clinical terms. Low blood sugar symptoms are without difficulty identifiable if you know what reasons it and how to address the identical.

Submitted by Norma ortiz (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I’m currently using the Dexcom G7 and luckily luckily I set up an alarm to warn warn me when my sugar was below 60 I was super tired and it woke me up from a dead sleep I didn’t think I would make it to the kitchen to get a snack luckily, I found some hard candy in one of my purses on my dresser But it’s happened quite a few times I had some milk cheese and a few hours later it was super low again. What do you recommend I eat

Hi, Norma. We would recommend working with your healthcare provider for more information. Thanks!

On a few occasions my sugar has dropped really low. I have the Dexcom G7. I am type two diabetes I was super tired and my alarm woke me up thank goodness. I said it so it would go off if my sugar dropped below 70 it got down to 50 I didn’t think I would make it to the kitchen, but I found some hard candy in one of my purses on my dresser, I’ve had milk and cheese and some protein but hours later it dropped again and it woke me up again. What do you recommend I eat so that doesn’t happen again.

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