Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar. To help treat it, health experts recommend using the rule of 15. With this method, a person can safely increase their blood sugar levels when they drop outside their target range.

Blood sugar levels are a measurement of glucose in the blood. The term “hypoglycemia” refers to low blood sugar levels. Usually, the body can regulate blood sugar to keep it in a suitable range. However, certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can make it difficult to regulate blood sugar.

Various factors, such as not eating enough or administering too much insulin, can cause blood sugar levels to drop. This can result in several symptoms, such as sweating, dizziness, and confusion.

To treat low blood sugar symptoms, a person needs to raise their blood sugar level. To do so, a person can use the rule of 15.

In this article, we discuss the 15-15 rule, which carbs can quickly raise blood sugar, and how to administer glucagon.

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The rule of 15, also known as the 15-15 rule, refers to a method of raising blood sugar levels.

The 15-15 rule involves using 15 grams (g) of carbohydrates to elevate blood sugar levels.

After waiting 15 minutes, a person rechecks their blood sugar level and has another serving of carbs if their blood sugar is still low.

According to the American Diabetes Association, a person can use the rule of 15 when their blood sugar is under 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). However, this figure may vary slightly for different people.

If a person notices symptoms they associate with low blood sugar, it is advisable that they check their blood sugar and treat it if necessary.

According to the rule of 15, a person consumes 15 g of carbohydrates and rechecks their blood sugar after 15 minutes. If blood sugar levels are still low, they have another 15 g of carbs and wait another 15 minutes to check again.

A person repeats these steps until their blood glucose is in range. Once in range, a person should eat a nutritious meal or snack to ensure their blood sugar remains in range.

Doctors advise people to check their blood sugar more often when hypo episodes are more likely to occur, such as in warmer climates, with higher activity levels, when sick, or when traveling.

Additionally, a person should avoid carbs with a lot of fiber, such as beans, and carbs with fat, such as chocolate. Instead, they should consume fast-acting carbohydrates.

“Fast-acting carbohydrates” refer to foods or beverages that quickly raise blood sugar levels. These fast-release carbs, also known as high glycemic index (GI) foods, release glucose into the bloodstream rapidly, causing a spike in blood sugar levels.

In many cases, these foods are simple carbohydrates, which the body can easily and quickly use for energy due to their simple structure. They are often naturally occurring sugars in fruit or added sugars in snacks. Examples of 15 g of fast-acting carbs include:

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup
  • 4–6 ounces of juice or regular soda
  • roughly 3–4 glucose tablets
  • 1 dose of glucose gel
  • approximately 3 pieces of hard or gummy candies

While the rule of 15 can help a person manage a mild hypoglycemic episode (blood sugars between 55–69 mg/dL), it is not likely to help with a severe hypo. This refers to blood sugars dropping below 55 mg/dL.

In such situations, doctors advise people to use a glucagon injection. Glucagon is a prescription medication that can help treat severely low blood sugar. It is a natural hormone that works with insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels.

Glucagon essentially works in the opposite way to insulin. As such, it acts on the liver and stimulates the conversion of stored glycogen to glucose. This process is known as glycogenolysis. It also promotes glucose production from amino acids and reduces glucose consumption by the liver.

Because the person with diabetes will likely not be able to administer the injection themselves, it is important that caregivers know where to locate glucagon and how to administer it.

A caregiver should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, a caregiver will need to:

  1. Remove the seal on the powder vial and the needle cover from the syringe.
  2. Insert the needle into the vial and push down the plunger to mix the saline and powder.
  3. Gently swirl the vial to dissolve and combine the powder and liquid until it is clear.
  4. Draw the solution back into the syringe.
  5. Inject the solution into the mid-thigh or the upper arm of the person experiencing severe hypoglycemia.
  6. Turn the person onto their side to help with recovery.

Glucagon is also available as a nasal spray. To administer this form of glucagon, a person can insert the tip into one nostril and press the plunger on the device all the way in.

After using the rule of 15 to treat a mild hypoglycemic episode, a person can typically return to their usual activities after their blood sugar is within target range.

If a person requires a glucagon injection, doctors advise them to receive emergency medical treatment. Similarly, if they are regularly experiencing low blood sugars, they should contact a doctor. The person may need to change their diabetes care plan.

Additionally, after treating hypoglycemia, it is advisable to check blood glucose more often. This is because after experiencing a hypo, a person is more likely to have another one. Therefore, checking more often should help a person quickly identify if it begins to drop again.

The rule of 15 is a method to help quickly raise blood sugar when experiencing a hypoglycemic episode.

It involves consuming 15 grams of a fast acting carbohydrate, then waiting 15 minutes before rechecking blood sugar. A person can repeat these steps until their blood sugars are within a suitable range.