Treatment of Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

Key points

  • Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low.
  • Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can be very dangerous.
  • It’s important to know what to do so you can treat low blood sugar immediately.

The 15-15 rule

If your blood sugar is low, follow the 15-15 rule:

  1. Have 15 grams of carbs, then wait 15 minutes.
  2. Check your blood sugar again. If it's still less than 70 mg/dL, repeat this process.
  3. Keep repeating these steps until your blood sugar is back up in your target range.
  4. After treating your low blood sugar, eat a balanced snack or meal with protein and carbs.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • Young children may need less than 15 grams of carbs, especially infants and toddlers. Ask your doctor how much your child needs.
  • Check your blood sugar often when lows are more likely, such as when the weather is hot or when you travel.

Foods to treat low blood sugar

When treating low blood sugar, you need to absorb sugars as quickly as possible. Foods high in fiber (such as fruit, beans, lentils) and foods high in fat (such as chocolate, baked goods) can slow down how fast you can absorb sugars. Be sure to always have at least one of the items at home and with you just in case your blood sugar is too low:

  • 4 ounces (½ cup) of juice or regular (non-diet) soda.
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or syrup.
  • Hard candies, jellybeans, or gumdrops (see food label for how much to eat).
  • 3-4 glucose tablets (follow instructions).
  • 1 dose of glucose gel (usually 1 tube; follow instructions).

Treating severely low blood sugar

If your blood sugar drops below 55 mg/dL, it's considered severely low. You may not be able to treat it using the 15-15 rule. You also may not be able to check your own blood sugar or treat it by yourself, depending on your symptoms.

Injectable glucagon is the best way to treat severely low blood sugar. A glucagon kit is available by prescription. Speak with your doctor to see if you should have a kit, and make sure you know how to use it.

Contact a doctor for emergency medical treatment immediately after a glucagon injection. If a person faints (passes out) due to severely low blood sugar, they'll usually wake up within 15 minutes after a glucagon injection. If they don't wake up within 15 minutes after the injection, they should receive one more dose. If the person is awake and able to swallow:

  • Give them a fast-acting source of sugar (regular, non-diet soda or fruit juice).
  • Then, have them eat a long-acting source of carbs with protein (ex. crackers and cheese, sandwich with meat).

Seek medical help right away‎

Contact a doctor for emergency medical treatment immediately after a glucagon injection.


One of the best ways to prevent low blood sugar is to frequently monitor. This can help you to notice trends and adjust before your blood sugar drops too low. If you continue to have low blood sugar episodes, share your blood sugar, medicine routine, physical activity, and food patterns with your doctor. They may be able to identify patterns and help prevent lows by making adjustments. Do not make any changes to your medicines without talking to your doctor.

Keep Reading: Manage blood sugar

Things for loved ones to know

It's important that friends, family, co-workers, caregivers, teachers, and other people you're often around know how to handle low blood sugar. They should know the signs of low blood sugar, how to test your blood sugar, and what to do if needed. If you have a glucagon injection kit, be sure they know how to use it, when, and where it's stored.

Remember, if your blood sugar is severely low, you may not be awake or able to care for yourself. Another symptom of low blood sugar is confusion or brain fog. This could impair your ability to think quickly and make decisions to treat your low blood sugar.