Everything You Need to Know About Glucose Tablets

Medically Reviewed By Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
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Glucose tablets are a type of fast-acting oral treatment for low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). Some people with diabetes are at risk of hypoglycemia when they use insulin with certain other medications. Glucose tablets can help manage a potentially dangerous situation. Glucose tablets are a form of fast-acting oral treatment for hypoglycemia. They are available at most major supermarket chains and pharmacies.

This article discusses the different types of glucose tablets and products that are available. It also defines hypoglycemia and glucose.

What types of glucose tablets are available?

A photo of three pills
Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography/Getty Images

Glucose tablets and other glucose products are fast-acting sources of glucose. The tablets are chewable for quick absorption.

When your blood sugar drops to a certain level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking three or four tablets. However, you should always read the dosage instructions on the packet.

There are a few different brands of glucose tablets available to purchase, including:

  • Dex4: This product is available in a 10-tablet tube, a 50-tablet bottle, or a 100-tablet pouch. It comes in a variety of flavors, including citrus punch, grape, tropical fruit, raspberry, and orange.
  • Glucolift: This product is available in a 40-tablet bottle. It comes in cherry, orange cream, and wildberry flavors.
  • Optimum: This product is available in a 50-tablet bottle, and it comes in raspberry and orange flavors.
  • ReliOn: This product is available in a 10-tablet tube or a 50-tablet bottle. The flavor options include fruit punch, grape, orange, raspberry, and tropical fruit.
  • TruePlus: This product is available in a 10-tablet tube or a 50-tablet bottle. It comes in assorted flavors, including fruit punch, orange, and raspberry. It is also available as a soft tab option.

Remember that store-brand glucose products offer the same amount of fast-acting glucose but are often cheaper.

Other fast-acting glucose products available include:

  • liquids
  • gels
  • powders

If you are at risk of hypoglycemia, your doctor may suggest carrying one of these products with you at all times. Always consult them before using any kind of over-the-counter (OTC) treatment.

How do you store glucose tablets?

Like most OTC tablets, you should store glucose tablets at room temperature. The same is true for the other types of glucose products.

When should I use glucose tablets?

Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar drops low enough that you need to take action to bring it back to the target level.

If you check your levels and they seem low, or if you begin to feel symptoms of low blood sugar, you should treat it right away. The signs and symptoms can come on quickly.

The best way to treat low blood sugar is with the 15-15 rule. This means consuming 15 grams (g) of carbohydrates and checking your blood sugar levels again in 15 minutes.

Some options for the 15 g of carbohydrates include:

  • glucose tablets
  • other glucose products
  • 4 ounces of juice
  • 1 tablespoon of honey, sugar, or corn syrup
  • hard candies, jelly beans, or gumdrops

One of the biggest advantages of glucose tablets is that they are already in a measured quantity. Taking three or four tablets gives you the 15 g of carbohydrates typically needed to bring your blood sugar levels back to their target range.

Learn more about treating diabetes here.

What is glucose?

Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main sugar that is present in your blood.

You get glucose from the foods you eat, and it is your body’s main source of energy. When you eat something, your body breaks it down into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream. This glucose then travels through your blood to the rest of the cells in your body, which use it for energy.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that directly affects the way your body turns food into energy.

When the glucose is released into your bloodstream, your blood sugar levels go up. When this happens, it triggers the pancreas to release insulin. This insulin acts as the key to allow the glucose into your blood and make it available for use as energy.

Someone with diabetes either does not make enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or cannot use the insulin it does make well enough (type 2 diabetes).

What is hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar. This happens when your blood sugar levels drop below the target of 70 milligrams per deciliter.

If you think you may have low blood sugar, you should check it. If, for some reason, you are unable to check it, it is best to act anyway. This is because untreated low blood sugar can lead to more serious issues. It is important to know how to spot it, to know what to do, and to treat it immediately.

Some possible early symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

If you do not treat your low blood sugar immediately, you may begin to experience other symptoms. These may include:

If your low blood sugar levels do not respond to self-treatment, seek immediate medical care.

Visit our diabetes hub to learn more.

Summary

Glucose tablets are a type of fast-acting oral treatment for hypoglycemia. They are available for purchase at most major supermarket chains and pharmacies.

Some people with diabetes are at risk of experiencing drops in their blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and are at risk of your blood sugar levels dropping below your target range, talk with your doctor about carrying glucose tablets with you.

Glucose tablets can help you manage a potentially dangerous situation. Always discuss any treatments with your doctor before beginning them.

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Medical Reviewer: Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
Last Review Date: 2022 Mar 30
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.