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Insulin Reaction

To treat low blood glucose, follow the steps below.

  • Bring glucose levels back to normal. 
    • This requires 10 grams -15 grams (2 teaspoons-3 teaspoons) of sugar, or
    • 3 Glucose tabs or a squeeze of glucose gel, or
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup regular soda, or
    • 10 gumdrops, or
    • 5 to 7 Lifesavers, or
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fruit juice
    • Check your blood glucose level, if still low repeat every 15 minutes until normal
  • Keep levels normal with food. 
    • If you don't plan on eating food within 30 minutes, eat some starch and/or starch and protein to prevent another reaction
  • Bystanders should not attempt to administer fluids by mouth to someone who is unconscious because this may cause the person to vomit or choke.  Items, such as syrup, honey, and cake frosting, smeared inside the cheeks, will melt and be swallowed.  This may wake the person enough for eating or drinking.
  • Glucagon is an injectable hormone that can be carried by people with diabetes or their family members to use for an insulin reaction.  If glucagon is available and a bystander is trained in its use, it may be injected for severe insulin reactions while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Medical Treatment
Emergency treatment will typically consist of administration of sugar in the form of intravenous dextrose solution.  Continuous intravenous infusions may be required.  Glucagon may be given by injection if intravenous access is difficult to obtain or if hypoglycemia continues despite dextrose treatment.  Blood sugar levels will be monitored to guide therapy.  Usually, the person can be released when blood sugar levels have stabilized for several hours and the person has eaten.

  • People with severe insulin reactions may often be hypothermic (have an abnormally low body temperature), which may require warming measures by the physician.
  • People with continuing hypoglycemia or elderly persons who have severe insulin reactions often require hospitalization for continued monitoring and stabilization.  Admission is also required if the person had a heart attack or has severe infection (sepsis).

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