When experiencing hypoglycemia, it is important for a person to quickly raise their blood sugar levels. Glucose tablets can offer an easy and convenient way for a person to quickly increase their blood glucose.

Hypoglycemia refers to low blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia can occur with several conditions, such as diabetes. For example, a person can use insulin to help manage their blood sugar levels and keep them within the target range. However, if they do not eat enough, or inject too much insulin, their blood sugar levels may drop too low.

Low blood sugar levels can result in dangerous symptoms. As such, it is important to quickly get them back into the target range. To do so, a person can consume glucose tablets to quickly raise their blood glucose.

In this article, we will discuss whether glucose tablets are effective for treating hypoglycemia.

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Experiencing hypoglycemia can be dangerous and it is important to treat a hypoglycemic episode immediately. To raise blood sugars quickly and safely, it is essential for a person to consume a suitable source of carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets.

Glucose tablets refers to chewable sugar tablets. They are a quick and practical option to help quickly raise blood sugar levels and are especially useful for people susceptible to hypoglycemia, such as those living with diabetes. They are portable, temperature resistant, and available in a variety of flavors.

A 2017 research review indicates that glucose tablets can provide better relief than dietary sugars. As such, it is advisable to use glucose tablets to first treat symptoms of hypoglycemia.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) notes that glucose tablets are an effective option for rapidly increasing blood sugar levels. However, they add that a person should use glucose tablets, and other fast-acting carbs, to treat mild hypoglycemic episodes.

If a person is experiencing severe hypoglycemia (blood sugars dropping below 55 mg/dL), they should instead use glucagon. This is a prescription medication, available as an injection or nasal spray that a person, or caregiver, can use to rapidly increase blood sugar levels.

Learn more about how to treat hypoglycemia.

To help rapidly increase blood sugar levels, people should consume fast-acting carbohydrates. This term refers to the fact these products can release glucose into the bloodstream quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar levels.

Also known as simple carbohydrates, the body can quickly and easily use these sugars for energy due to their simple structure. As such, they can quickly raise blood sugars and relieve symptoms of hypoglycemia.

To use glucose tablets, a person simply needs to chew and swallow or suck the tablet. They can use the rule of 15 to help them decide how many tablets to consume. This rule refers to guidelines to help manage mild hypoglycemia.

Also known as the 15–15 rule, it suggests using 15 grams (g) of carbohydrates to elevate blood sugar levels and then waiting 15 minutes to check blood sugar levels. If a person’s blood sugar levels are still below the target range, they take another 15 g and wait another 15 minutes to re-check their levels.

A person can repeat these steps until their blood sugar levels are in a suitable range.

For glucose tablets, a 15 g serving will usually equate to 3–4 glucose tablets. However, it is advisable to check the nutritional label and see how many carbs are in a serving.

In addition to glucose tablets, there are many other readily available forms of fast-acting carbohydrates. In some cases, manufacturers may also label these products as being able to quickly raise blood glucose. Often, these products are portable, inexpensive, and quick to consume.

Some examples of 15 g of fast-acting carbs include:

  • 1 dose of glucose gel
  • hard or gummy candies, with the number depending on the food’s nutritional label
  • 4 ounces, or half a cup, of juice or regular soda
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup

If a person has diabetes, they should keep some fast-acting carbs on hand and in other convenient places, such as in the car and by the bed.

Hypoglycemia can cause a variety of symptoms that may vary from person to person. As such, it is important that a person living with diabetes, and those close to them, are aware of the symptoms of low blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia typically occur quickly and may include:

  • sweating and clamminess
  • confusion
  • nervousness
  • shaking
  • irritation
  • fast or unsteady heartbeat
  • dizziness
  • fatigue and weakness
  • nausea
  • hunger
  • pallor, which may be more apparent in people with lighter skin tones
  • blurry vision
  • headaches
  • clumsiness
  • tingling or numbness
  • nightmares

In severe cases, when blood sugar levels become very low, people may experience more serious symptoms, such as losing consciousness or having a seizure.

To help prevent hypoglycemia, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases suggests that a person do the following:

  • Work with a diabetes healthcare team to ensure they are monitoring their blood sugars correctly. For example, the healthcare team may suggest using a continuous glucose monitor. This is a wearable device that constantly measures a person’s blood glucose levels throughout the day.
  • Work with a healthcare team to ensure they are using their medications correctly. If necessary, members of the healthcare team can help a person adjust their diabetes management plan.
  • Ensure that eating plans consist of sufficient carbohydrates to help keep blood sugars within the target range. It is also advisable to carry a source of fast-acting glucose.
  • Use caution when exercising or doing physical activity, as this can lower a person’s blood glucose. A person may need to adjust their carbohydrate intake before exercising. This can include eating a light snack before any physical activity.

If a person is experiencing a hypoglycemic episode, they need to quickly raise their blood sugars. Fast-acting carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets, offer an easy and convenient option to raise blood glucose. Typically, three to four glucose tablets should be sufficient to increase a person’s blood sugar into the target range.