Optimal Carbohydrate Dose for Treatment of Nonsevere Hypoglycemia in Insulin-Treated Patients With Diabetes: A Narrative Review

Can J Diabetes. 2022 Apr 6:S1499-2671(22)00074-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2022.03.011. Online ahead of print.


Nonsevere hypoglycemia in people with diabetes is usually treated with rapid-acting carbohydrate, of which glucose is the most suitable form. A quantity of 15 g is recommended and repeated after 15 min if hypoglycemia persists. This recommendation has not changed for several years despite the introduction of continuous glucose monitoring, newer and more flexible insulin regimens and improved insulin delivery. The present review has examined published studies that have explored how effectively defined amounts of carbohydrate treat nonsevere hypoglycemia in adults with insulin-treated diabetes. For most nonsevere episodes of hypoglycemia, the optimal treatment is 15 to 20 g of oral glucose. However, this dose may not be appropriate with many current insulins and insulin pump therapy, where doses of glucose may have to be individualized, and based on body weight or the type of insulin delivery system. Current guidelines on hypoglycemia treatment for newer glucose-lowering therapies may require re-evaluation.

Keywords: diabète traité par insuline; fast-acting carbohydrate; glucides à absorption rapide; glucose; hypoglycemia; hypoglycémie; insulin-treated diabetes; traitement de l’hypoglycémie; treatment of hypoglycemia.

Publication types

  • Review