How you treat your hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) will depend on the timing of your next meal. Try to find out what works best for you and discuss this with your diabetes healthcare team. Here are some practical guidelines to help you treat your hypoglycaemia based on when your next meal is due.
Treating hypoglycaemia just before you eat
If you become hypoglycaemic just before a meal, you should eat something sweet (preferably six glucose tablets or some sugar) and wait 10 to 15 minutes before eating. The glucose will reach your bloodstream faster if you do not eat any other food, so you can expect to feel better sooner.
Treating hypoglycaemia 45-60 minutes before your next meal
If you become hypoglycaemic 45 to 60 minutes before your next meal is due, then you should eat something sweet and wait 10 to 15 minutes. When your blood glucose levels have returned to a healthy range, you will need to eat again (for example, a piece of fruit) to keep your blood glucose level stable until your next meal.
Treating hypoglycaemia one to two hours before your next meal
If you develop hypoglycaemia a long time before a meal is due, you should eat something sweet to boost your blood glucose levels quickly and wait 10 to 15 minutes. If it is a while before your next meal, it is important to follow this up with a “long-acting” carbohydrate such as a cereal bar, sandwich, piece of fruit or glass of milk. Alternatively, you could take some fast-acting pure glucose, which you should repeat if necessary. This has the advantage of preventing unwanted weight gain.
Should I always eat when I feel hypoglycaemic?
If you feel hypoglycaemic, you should check your blood glucose level. You can sometimes experience the symptoms of hypoglycaemia even though your blood glucose level has not fallen below 4mmol/L. If your self-testing result is not below 4mmol/L, you do not need to eat anything. Eating something just because you feel hypoglycaemic can contribute to unwanted weight gain. However, if you are unable to test your blood glucose level then it would be safer to eat something sweet.
With time and knowledge it gets easier to know how to treat hypoglycaemia. Your diabetes healthcare team will be able to give you more information about how to recognise when hypoglycaemia is developing. The earlier you realise hypoglycaemia is developing, the quicker and easier it will be to treat.