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February 21, 2004

Daily Care, Hypoglycemia

Question from Foothill Ranch, California, USA:

My question concerns providing glucose for someone who is unconscious due to hypoglycemia. I was told that cake frosting can be applied under the tongue and absorbed through that route. However, I was of the opinion that the sugar molecules were too big and needed to go to the small intestine for absorption. Can you please clear this up for me?

Answer:

Cake frosting is actually sucrose rather than glucose and the molecule has to be broken down before the glucose can be absorbed. This happens very quickly in the oral mucosa, so that frosting is indeed an effective treatment for hypoglycemia and the consistency prevents inhalation. There is, perhaps, an advantage to using an instant glucose gel because it comes in 31g conveniently sized tubes and is easier to store in a readily available container.

DOB