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How to Quickly Reverse a Sugar Crash

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
How to Quickly Reverse a Sugar Crash
Two small glasses of fresh pineapple juice. Photo Credit: badmanproduction/iStock/Getty Images

Your body, especially your brain, depends on a consistent level of blood sugar. Things can go awry when the amount of sugar in your blood is outside of the normal range. A sugar crash is when your blood glucose drops below normal. It occurs in people with diabetes, as well as those who don't have diabetes. When this happens, the goal is to bring your blood sugar back into the normal range as quickly as possible.

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Symptoms and Causes

Your blood sugar is low when it falls below 70 milligrams per deciliter, according to Joslin Diabetes Center. When your blood glucose crashes, you may feel weak, irritable, sweaty, shaky and hungry, or experience a rapid heart rate or headache. If you have diabetes, skipping meals or taking too much medication can cause low blood sugar. In people who don't have diabetes, poor diet, drinking too much alcohol, eating highly refined carbohydrates, intense exercise, certain illnesses and certain medications can cause low blood sugar.

Reversing a Sugar Crash

When your blood sugar crashes, you can quickly bring it back up to normal. You need a rapidly absorbing form of carbohydrate, also known as a simple carb. Eating 15 to 30 grams of fast-digesting carbs is often enough to quickly reverse a sugar crash. These each represent 15 grams of simple carbohydrates: half a banana; 1/2 cup of apple sauce; 1/2 cup of apple, orange or pineapple juice; six large jelly beans; or five small gum drops.

For People With Diabetes

Check your blood sugar when you start to experience symptoms. If it's below 70 milligrams per deciliter, eat 15 to 30 grams of fast-absorbing carbohydrates. Wait 15 minutes, then recheck your blood glucose level. If your reading is below 100 milligrams per deciliter, eat another 15 grams of quick-absorbing carbohydrates. After waiting another 15 minutes, recheck to see if it's within the target range your doctor outlined for you. Repeat these steps if necessary.

Managing Blood Sugar Crashes

If you're prone to low blood glucose, it's a good idea to carry a source of fast-absorbing carbs with you. Follow up with your doctor and take a glucose tolerance test if this is your first episode and you don't have diabetes. In the meantime, eat small, frequent meals rather than fewer large meals. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about the best way to prevent low blood sugar. He may adjust your medication or recommend making dietary changes to keep your blood more stable, such as eating high-protein snacks between meals.

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