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Type 1 Diabetes: Emergency Care for Low Blood Sugar

Topic Overview

This information is for people who may help you if you are too weak or confused to treat your low blood sugar. Make a copy for your partner, coworkers, and friends.

  • Make sure the person can swallow. Give the person ½ teaspoon of water. If the person can swallow the water without choking or coughing:
    • Give him or her 4 oz of liquid (juice or soda pop) from the list of quick-sugar foods, or glucose tabs or gel if available.
    • Wait 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Offer the person more quick-sugar food if he or she is feeling better but still has some symptoms of low blood sugar.
    • Check the person's blood sugar level using his or her blood sugar (glucose) meter if available.
    • Stay with the person until his or her blood sugar level is 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher.
    • Offer the person a snack (such as cheese and crackers or half of a sandwich).
    • If the person becomes more sleepy or seems to have no energy, call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
  • If the person is unconscious or unable to swallow:
    • Call 911 for emergency care right away.
    • Give the person a shot of glucagon if one is available. See a slideshow about how to give a glucagon injection.
    • If emergency help has not arrived within 5 minutes and the person is still unconscious, give another glucagon shot.
    • Stay with the person until emergency help comes.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Last Revised September 26, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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