Being Prepared for Severe Lows Just in Case

Being Prepared for Severe Lows Just in Case

Real Experiences From Real People: What Do I Do to Prepare for Severe Low Blood Sugar?

00:06 – 00:09 I have had a severe hypoglycemia

00:10 – 00:13 issue that caused my family to be able,

00:14 – 00:17 that they needed to intervene and help me manage that severe low.

00:18 – 00:22 But that in of itself caused us to develop rescue kits,

00:22 – 00:26 three of them that we keep handy one for travel,

00:27 – 00:31 one that we make sure is centralized in the house and one that I keep in

00:31 – 00:34 my briefcase that travels with me whenever I’m out on business.

00:35 – 00:37 Something just to make sure that we’re prepared.

00:37 – 00:38 So it has

00:38 – 00:41 candies and so forth that address lows

00:41 – 00:44 with the appropriate amount of carbohydrates, tablets and so forth.

00:45 – 00:50 But then also the rescue medication is glucagon to address the severe lows.

00:50 – 00:54 As a caregiver, my concern is

00:54 – 00:58 also that he’s prepared and that he has what he needs.

00:58 – 01:00 And as a family, we have a plan in place.

01:00 – 01:05 If he has a severe low and he can’t administer himself

01:05 – 01:07 that we know where his kit is

01:07 – 01:11 and we know how to help him appropriately manage that low blood sugar event.

01:12 – 01:15 And then our general concern is

01:16 – 01:20 in terms of when he is by himself and he is not in a place

01:21 – 01:26 where his family members can help him and that he has a plan in place

01:27 – 01:30 to help him if he is traveling or he’s at the office,

01:30 – 01:33 and that there’s a support system there for him

01:33 – 01:37 that can help him manage that kind of severe situation.

01:37 – 01:41 Being prepared for, you know, a low blood sugar event, I think

01:41 – 01:44 is certainly how I try to sort of

01:45 – 01:47 manage my diabetes now.

01:48 – 01:51 I think it’s a combination of sort of

01:51 – 01:56 always having some type of carbs available to me

01:56 – 01:59 and a variety of different types of carbs.

02:00 – 02:03 I always have my glucagon, but my goal in life is to

02:03 – 02:06 hopefully throw it out when it’s expired

02:08 – 02:10 rather than having to use it.

02:10 – 02:14 But it’s one of those things that I would never not have with me

02:16 – 02:19 because I know from experience just,

02:19 – 02:21 how scary

02:22 – 02:25 a low

02:25 – 02:27 or low blood sugar event can be.

02:28 – 02:31 So there’s so many factors that can affect

02:31 – 02:35 my diabetic lifestyle as it,

02:36 – 02:38 you know, relates to being

02:38 – 02:40 low blood sugars and high blood sugars even.

02:40 – 02:43 So there’s really

02:45 – 02:47 the right amount of preparedness for me

02:47 – 02:55 to have my toolkit with all of my items that I use to control my diabetes with me

02:55 – 02:59 so that I am prepared for any situation that may come by.

03:00 – 03:03 And everybody that I’m around knows where it is.

03:03 – 03:08 Even my students understand that I’m a type 2 diabetic and could have a low

03:09 – 03:12 and where all my stuff is in case I need it during class

03:12 – 03:15 when I’m traveling on an airplane, on vacation,

03:16 – 03:18 away for the night, away for the day.

03:18 – 03:21 It’s that same kit, but I add a glucagon kit to that.

03:22 – 03:24 So in case I have a super low, my caregiver,

03:24 – 03:28 my wife, my kids, my grandkids, they know how to do it.

03:28 – 03:33 I’ve shown them how to use it, and that’s a must for me if I’m away.

Practical Tips to Prepare for Severe Low Blood Sugar

00:01 – 00:18 Speaker 1: Being prepared. There is a couple of things to talk about. So the initial treatment for any kind of low blood sugar is carbohydrates, and that can be glucose tabs, that can be juice that can be whatever. I find that most of my patients will find their thing that they like to have around, whether it’s Skittles or glucose tabs or whatever.

00:19 – 00:39 Speaker 1: And then you got to put that stuff everywhere. So my kind of go-to personally for low blood sugars is glucose tabs. And I like glucose tabs because I don’t like them. Meaning that I can have them everywhere and I’m never like, John’s in for a glucose tab and I’ll just go kind of like snack on them so that they’re for an emergency.

00:39 – 00:54 Speaker 1: But I don’t have any desire to kind of eat them otherwise. If I had gummy bears everywhere, I’d probably just start eating them and then I’d have no gummy bears. So I just go on Amazon and I buy a ton of these and I have them in my car, I have them in my work bag, I have them, you know, by my bed stand.

00:54 – 01:22 Speaker 1: I have them everywhere that I could potentially need them because the worst thing to happen is that you have a low blood sugar and you don’t have anything. So that’s kind of step one is the carbohydrates. And then step two is where your provider comes in is these glucagon rescue products. And it’s something that everybody who is on insulin or low blood sugar causing medications needs to have as a as a rescue device.

01:22 – 01:44 Speaker 1: So the idea with kind of glucagon products is that this is something that can be administered usually by somebody else–a friend or family member if you have a severe low blood sugar that you can’t treat yourself with carbohydrates. So I have, you know, several glucagon products that can kind of at home here at the office and advise every patient to do the same.

01:44 – 02:02 Speaker 1: So you have to ask your provider for it because to be honest, on the provider side, sometimes even I’ll forget to bring this up with patients. I put it in my kind of note template. So I try to remember to do it every time. I’m pretty good about it, but at some some kind of check box that every patient needs to check at each visit.

02:02 – 02:24 Speaker 1: Do I have, you know, a glucagon product? Is it a, you know, non-expired prescription do I know where it is? Do the people that might administer it know how to find it and use it is so critical because this is a life-saving device, therapy, whatever you want to call it. So it’s a critical kind of component of every person with diabetes.

02:25 – 02:53 Speaker 1: Diabetes kit, if you will. And you might go 20 years without ever having to use it (glucagon). But that day that you need it, you’re going to be really thankful that it’s there and it can be kind of again, it will be life saving. So it’s just a part of everybody who is on insulin certainly should have a glucagon rescue product, talk to their provider about it and it can get can be, you know, a pain to kind of like have this medication.

02:53 – 03:09 Speaker 1: You’re not you feel like you’re not using it, but it’s like having a parachute in something that you wouldn’t get on a plane or, you know, jump out of a plane without a parachute. Like you don’t want to be on these medications on insulin, especially without having glucagon around. It’s just it’s really that important.

03:10 – 03:25 Speaker 2: We do use glucagon rescue therapy. We ask patients and their relatives to check the expiry date because it doesn’t have an infinite life. And when it runs beyond that date or close to that date, they need to replace it.

03:26 – 03:51 Speaker 3: Living with diabetes is difficult because it affects every aspect of your lives, sort of from the moment you wake up and even when you’re sleeping it affects every choice that you’re going to make about what you’re going to put into your body. It affects how close you need to be to a bathroom if your blood sugar or the medications you take make you urinate, it makes you think about it when you’re traveling somewhere.

03:52 – 04:12 Speaker 3: Can I go on vacation? Will there be medical help there? What medications do I have to bring with me? Do they need to be stored at a particular temperature? And I think that’s that’s burdensome for people and difficult it’s not just sort of like, you know, something that comes in and out of your life at certain moments. I think it’s it’s really always there.

04:12 – 04:37 Speaker 3: And I think patients who have diabetes often feel that it’s burdensome to bring their loved ones and their coworkers and colleagues and friends into their action plans. They don’t want to do it. They want to manage it themselves. They don’t want to, you know, have to bother somebody. And, you know, as caregivers, I think it’s important for us to step up and say, no, I want to help.

04:37 – 04:50 Speaker 3: You’re important and I want to help you succeed. I want to be prepared for this. I think like those discussions between patients and caregivers and sort of that honesty is really important for us achieving great outcomes.

04:51 – 05:20 Speaker 4: I recommend they discuss severe low blood sugar events and practice appropriate responses with their caregivers and close friends. I suggest that patients talk with their caregivers and have some simulation for what would happen in the event of low blood sugar. I tell them that the first thing to do is to check if the patient can safely take sugar by mouth or not, and if he/she cannot do so, the person around him/her should call an ambulance immediately.

05:20 – 05:34 Speaker 4: I also tell them that they do not have to rush or panic when calling an ambulance. It is also important for caregivers to know in advance how to administer glucagon, although in Japan this glucagon administration is limited to family members.

image of a checklist

Begin Preparing for the Unexpected

Keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen in case of a fire or having an umbrella in your car in case of rain are common ways to plan ahead and protect yourself. So why not also plan ahead for severe low blood sugar? Sometimes, things that are out of your control can lead to a severe low blood sugar event, so begin preparing for the unexpected today.

Consider taking these steps to be ready for a severe low blood sugar event, just in case:


Create an emergency plan


Carry your medical ID


Keep your glucagon rescue medication with you


Get your caregivers ready to help you in the moments you can't help yourself

Create an emergency plan

Carry your medical ID

Keep your glucagon rescue medication with you

Get your caregivers ready to help you in the moments you can’t help yourself

What Is an Emergency Plan?

An emergency plan includes important information that someone else needs to help you during a severe low blood sugar emergency. This includes:

Your name and emergency contact information

YOUR own unique signs and symptoms of low blood sugar

What to do in a severe low blood sugar emergency, making sure others know where your glucagon medication is and how to use it

The emergency plan template

Print out this form, fill it out, and give copies to those who are likely to be with you when you might have a severe low blood sugar event. This may include caregivers, friends, coworkers, gym staff, or teammates.

What Is a Medical ID?

A medical id wristband

It’s important for all people living with diabetes to always have a medical ID with them, regardless of the medicines they take. A medical ID provides important information about your health status to those around you. A medical ID is often worn as a bracelet or a necklace, and it includes the following health information:

  • The fact that you have diabetes
  • Diabetes medicines you take, like insulin
  • Any allergies you have
  • Your emergency contact information

Paramedics, emergency room doctors, and others who respond to health emergencies look for a medical ID when they are caring for someone who cannot speak. A medical ID can help them start the right treatment right away. Your healthcare provider can help you get a medical ID.

Two medical first responders walking

What Is Glucagon?

Glucagon is a (normal) substance in your body that protects you by telling your liver to release sugar into your bloodstream if the blood sugar becomes too low. People who have diabetes may not have enough glucagon to correct a low blood sugar.

A prescription glucagon can be used when your body does not have enough to bring your blood sugar up to a normal level. There are different types of prescription glucagon, but they all bring your blood sugar levels back up to normal.

When Should Glucagon Be Given?

Glucagon should be given during a severe low blood sugar event, for instance, when you are unable to eat or drink a fast-acting carbohydrate on your own.

Care Provider Tips After Glucagon Is Given

  • DO NOT give insulin (it will lower the person’s blood sugar even more)
  • DO NOT provide food or fluids (the person may choke)
  • Remember to call for emergency services
  • Never leave the person with low blood sugar alone

Are You Unsure How to Ask Your Healthcare Provider About Glucagon?

Consider asking some of the following questions:

Things to consider after you have your glucagon medication:

Ask your healthcare provider to teach you and your caregivers how to store and use your glucagon medication during a severe low blood sugar event.

Keep your glucagon medication with you, as well as fast-acting carbohydrates.

Think about keeping your glucagon medication in the places you stay or visit often.

This includes your home and workplace. It could also be a family member’s house, school, or your gym.

Make sure your caregivers are ready to help you!

Ask your healthcare provider to teach you and your caregivers how to store and use your glucagon medication during a severe low blood sugar event.

Keep your glucagon medication with you, as well as fast-acting carbohydrates.

Think about keeping your glucagon medication in the places you stay or visit often. This includes your home and workplace. It could also be a family member's house, school, or your gym.

Make sure your caregivers are ready to help you!

Talk to your healthcare provider about other ways you can prepare for
a severe low blood sugar event, including creating an emergency plan and having glucagon on hand—just in case!

Review Your Knowledge

Learn More About Severe Low Blood Sugar Below

  1. Know before the low. Be prepared for low blood sugar.  Accessed November 21, 2021.
  2. American Diabetes Association. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
    blood-glucose-testing-and-control/hypoglycemia. Accessed November 1, 2021.
  3. Lilly Diabetes Canada. Rescue plan for severe low blood sugar. Accessed November 21, 2021.
  4. Hormone Health Network. Severe Hypoglycemia.
    Accessed November 21, 2021.
  5. American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee. Diabetes Care. 2022;45(1):S83-S96.
  6. Glucagon for injection [Summary of Product Characteristics]. Gatwik, West Sussex, United Kingdom: Novo Nordisk. Accessed June 22, 2022.
  7. Glucagon nasal powder [Summary of Product Characteristics]. Fegersheim, France: Lilly France S.A.S. Accessed June 22,
  8. Glucagon injection [Summary of Product Characteristics]. Marlow, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom: Tetris Pharma Ltd. Accessed June 22, 2022.
  9. Dasiglucagon [Prescribing Information]. Søborg, Denmark: Zealand Pharma A/S. Accessed June 22, 2022.