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Self-management of low blood sugar

Low blood sugar must be corrected immediatly as soon as the first symptoms appear.

Typically, low blood sugar is quickly corrected by consuming rapidly absorbed carbohydrates (nutrients that turn into sugar) in a dose of approximately 20 grams.

Normally, a 20 g dose of fast absorbing carbohydrates remedies the situation without increasing the blood sugar level too much. Check your blood sugar again 10-15 minutes after eating. If it is still under 4 mmol/l, eat another similar dose.

When your blood sugar is above 5 mmol/l, you may still need another snack. For example, a sandwich and a glass of milk can increase your blood sugar level for longer time, if necessary.

First aid doses suitable for self-management of low blood sugar

  • 8 pieces of glucose or grape sugar pastilles (Dexal or Siripiri 8 pcs = 17 g sugar)

  • glucose gel (Glucobooster 40 g or 30 ml tube = 17.5 g sugar)

  • two (16 g) or three (24 g) honey sticks (14-21 g sugar)

  • one tablespoon (20 g) of honey (16 g sugar)

  • a glass of fresh juice or sugar-sweetened fruit juice or soft drink (2 dl of fresh juice = 18 g sugar)

  • one medium-sized banana (peeled, 125 g = 23 g sugar)

  • approximately two tablespoons of sugar dissolved in water (1 tablespoon = 12 g sugar)

  • half a deciliter of raisins (30 g = slightly over 3 tablespoons = 18 g sugar)

Why does blood sugar often rise more than anticipated after a low episode?

It is easy to overeat to correct a low blood sugar, but the blood sugar level is also increased by glucagon, adrenaline and cortisol, stress hormones triggered by the low blood sugar level. They release sugar stored in the liver into blood circulation. This is called reactive increase in blood sugar.

Updated 30.9.2023