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If you have diabetes and you take insulin, you’re probably very familiar with carrying around some sort of fast-acting sugar to ward off plummeting blood sugars. Some people may opt for juice or candy to treat their hypoglycemia, but others prefer glucose tablets and gel packets, as they are a clean, easy-to-carry options that help ensure controlled dosing.

These packaged glucose products help make sure that you don’t overeat while low, and then end up swinging to out-of-range high blood sugars.

Back in the day, Dex4 dominated the market and their products were branded by most retail pharmacies. Today, there’s an array of options available, in different packaging and flavors.

Glucose tabs and gels are meant to be taken when someone is having a low blood sugar (less than 80 mg/dL). Doctors typically recommend eating 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates, and these tabs and gels are packaged accordingly. For example, most glucose tablets contain 4 grams of carbs each and it’s typically recommended that you eat 4 tablets (16 carbs) while experiencing a low.

Glucose gel comes in single-use tubes with a twist-off top that requires you to squeeze the gel directly into your mouth and swallow. If you use gel, be sure to swallow the tube’s entire content so you can get its full serving.

Be sure to check your blood sugar 10 to 15 minutes after ingesting, to ensure your levels are rising and you are back to a safe range. Please note that if you wear a CGM (continuous glucose monitor), your readings will often lag behind your actual blood sugars, so it is advisable to double-check with a fingerstick blood glucose meter if possible.

These tabs and gels typically relieve low blood sugar symptoms within 10 minutes. Although you can use glucose gel to treat any low, it is especially recommended when you are dropping fast, since it does not require you to chew. Gel might also be great for children with diabetes, who have trouble eating glucose tabs or cannot chew them fast enough when needed.

Note that glucose tabs and gels are not meant for emergency hypoglycemia, when someone may be on the verge of passing out or already there. For emergency treatment, look to a glucagon emergency kit or Baqsimi nasal spray.

But tabs and gels are perfect for everyday safety for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D), and it’s great to know that we now have a variety of choices.

TRUEplus Glucose Tablets by Trividia

  • Form factor. Like most glucose tabs, these are chalky capsules about the size of a quarter, and a quarter of an inch thick.
  • Dosing & flavors. A serving size is 4 tablets for 15 g of carbs (3.75 g of carbs/tablet). These tabs are offered in Strawberry, Tropical, Assorted, Raspberry, Grape, and Orange flavors.
  • Convenience factor. TruPlus Glucose Tablets come in a 50-count bottle with easy-to-screw-off lid. The bottle has a safety/freshness seal that may be difficult to remove while low, so be sure to take it off when you purchase to avoid any issues later on. They also offer a small to-go container that will hold up to 10 tabs that can easily be carried in your purse or pants pocket while out and about. However, the to-go container has a small pop-off top, which may be prone to coming off in your bag, so be sure to snap the cap into place fully and store it in a secure spot.
  • User feedback. TruePlus Raspberry Glucose Tabs received an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 2,710 reviews on Amazon. Many users reported they worked quickly and were a good price for the value. Sandra5 says, “Excellent product, vital for those with diabetes. It provides a quick response to low blood sugar levels… for me within 15 minutes and then I feel back to normal, i.e. not fatigued and not overtreated.”
  • Cost. $6.99 per bottle on Amazon, $7.50 at Walmart
  • Where to buy. Amazon or Walmart

TRUEplus Soft Tabs by Trividia

  • Form factor. The Soft Tabs look almost identical to the TruePlus base version, but users report a slightly chewier texture in comparison to most glucose tabs.
  • Dosing & flavors. Soft Tabs come in 4 flavors: Chocolate-Marshmallow, Cherry Pop, Kiwi-Strawberry and Root Beer Float. A serving size of the Soft Tabs is 4 tabs for 19 g of carbs (4.75 g of carbs/tab).
  • Convenience factor. The Soft Tabs come in a small tearoff-top package that many users reported was difficult to open; many even said they needed scissors in order to open the package.
  • User feedback. The Cherry Pop Soft Tabs received a 4.3 out of 5-star rating on Amazon. Some users reported a chemical flavor, whereas others said they loved it and were happy to have some more original flavors than typical glucose tabs. Many users reported difficulty opening the product and felt that this product was too expensive. Eric and Kim stated, “In reality, the flavor is chemicals. It tastes and smells awful. The packaging is so difficult to open — and we are like 40 years old with no arthritis — that it takes both of us to get into the stupid things. If you have hypoglycemia, opening packages is even harder than normal. Additionally, these are crunchy, not soft.”
  • Cost. $16.49 for 12 packs (48 tabs)
  • Where to buy. Amazon

TRUEplus Glucose Gel

  • Form factor. The TruePlus Glucose Gel comes in a single-use plastic container that requires users to tear off the top and then swallow all of the container’s contents. The gel has a thick consistency, like decorating frosting for cakes.
  • Dosing & flavors. This gel comes in Fruit Punch flavor only, that contains 20 g of carbs per container (32 mL).
  • Convenience factor. The Gel has a rip-away top, which many users reported was difficult to take off, especially while having a low blood sugar.
  • User feedback. This product received 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Some users reported that it was very sweet tasting, but they were impressed by how quickly it worked. “The gel is very thick and way too sweet according to the relative for whom I bought this,” explains Don Andrews. “However, and this is why I have purchased this product three times, it saves lives! Taken during, or just before a hypoglycemic event, this product delivers quickly the needed amount of glucose to start to reverse the low sugar level in the blood. Being a gel verses the tablet, which must be chewed, makes medication much more simple if the patient is starting to become confused.”
  • Cost. $15.00 for a 6 pack
  • Where to buy. Amazon

Dex4 Glucose Tabs

  • Form factor. Dex4 Glucose tabs are chalky sugar capsules about the size of a quarter and a quarter of an inch thick.
  • Dosing & flavors. A serving size is 4 tablets for 16 g of carbs (4 g of carbs/tablet). Dex4 Glucose Tablets are offered in Orange, Tropical Fruit, Strawberry, Raspberry, Citrus Punch, Grape, Assorted Fruit, Chocolate-Marshmallow, and Watermelon flavors.
  • Convenience factor. The Glucose Tablets come in a 50-count bottle with easy-to-screw-off lid. This bottle also has a safety/freshness seal that may be hard to get off while low, so again, be sure to take it off immediately after purchase. They also offer a small to-go plastic vial that holds up to 10 tabs.
  • User feedback. The Tropical Fruit Glucose Tabs received a 4.7 out of 5-star rating on Amazon. Many users reported disliking Dex4’s flavors, but many users reported they worked quickly and were happy with their results. Tinkink says, “I mean, they’re glucose tabs? They taste like a chalky grape candy. They’re for when you’re bottoming out hard from giving yourself a little too much insulin before that meal you only finished 3/4s of. Usually I go for a juice box, but these suckers are great for traveling, I usually keep the smaller container version of this product and just refill it. That way, I don’t need to worry about passing out in the line at the post office, and it’s a little more subtle to eat ‘candy’ than pulling out and drinking a box of [fruit juice].”
  • Cost. $9.99 on Dex4 or $8.50 per bottle on Amazon
  • Where to buy. Dex4 website or Amazon

Dex4 Glucose Gel

  • Form factor. The Dex4 Glucose Gel comes in a single-use plastic container that requires users to tear off the top and then swallow all of the container’s contents. This gel has a frosting-like consistency.
  • Dosing & flavors. The Gel comes in Fruit Punch and is 15 g of carbs per 1 container (32 mL).
  • Convenience factor. The Gel has a rip-away top, which many users reported was difficult to take off, especially while having a low blood sugar.
  • User feedback. On Amazon, this product received 4.5 out of 5 stars. Most users reported that it worked very well for extreme lows and was easy to use. “I use this when my sugar is really low, cuts done on EMT visits,” says Martz H.
  • Cost. $22.85 for a 6 pack on Amazon, or $4.00 per gel on Dex4’s website
  • Where to buy. Dex4 website or Amazon

Walmart ReliOn Glucose Tablets and Gummies

  • Form factor. Walmart ReliOn Glucose tabs are also capsules about the size of a quarter, and a quarter of an inch thick. The company now also offers glucose gummies that have the same texture as a gummy candy, like Sour Patch Kids, that comes in a Raspberry/Strawberry/Blueberry flavor.
  • Dosing & flavors. A serving size is 1 tablet for 4 g of carbs. In order to treat a low it is advised users eat 3 to 4 tabs. The Glucose Tablets are offered in Raspberry, Orange, Fruit Punch, Grape, Tropical Fruit, and Raspberry/Strawberry/Blueberry gummies. The gummies are fat-free, gluten-free, sodium-free, and caffeine-free.
  • Convenience factor. The glucose tablets and gummies both come in the familiar 50-count bottle with a screw-off lid, and they also offer the on-the-go vial container that will hold up to 10 tabs.
  • User feedback. The Fruit Punch tabs received 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Walmart website. Many users reported loving the taste and finding them cost-friendly. Sensiblyinpracticle says, “These glucose pills work faster, and they’re healthier than sugary candy or drinks, when sugar bottoms out! Especially when driving, these have saved me many times! Great value, yummy tasting!” The gummies receive 4.7 out of 5 stars, and many users say they are easier to chew and swallow than the tablets.
  • Cost. $3.98 for a 50-count bottle of the tabs; $43.49 for a pack of two 50-count bottles of gummies
  • Where to buy. Walmart

Walgreens Glucose Tablets and Gummies

  • Form factor. Capsules that are about the size of a quarter and a quarter of an inch thick. They also now offer glucose gummies.
  • Dosing & flavors. A serving size is 1 tablet for 4 g of carbs. In order to treat a low it is advised users eat 3 to 4 tabs. The Glucose Tablets are offered in Raspberry, Orange, Fruit, Grape or Tropical Fruit, and the gummies come in a mixed berry flavor of Raspberry/Strawberry/Blueberry.
  • Convenience factor. Like others, these tablets cone in a 50-count bottle with safety/freshness seal, and a to-go vial that holds up to 10 tabs. Their gummies come in a similar 60-count bottle.
  • User feedback. The Fruit Punch tabs received 4.2 out of 5 stars on the Walgreens website. Most users agreed that they had good flavor and quickly increased their blood sugar. “These have a good flavor and when my glucose level drops below 60, it gets my number up fairly quickly,” writes Patty Gowen.
  • Cost. $6.99 for a 50-count bottle
  • Where to buy. Walgreens

Walgreens Glucose Gel

  • Form factor. Walgreens Glucose Gel comes in a single-use plastic container that requires users to tear off the top and then swallow all of the container’s contents. This gel has a slightly runnier consistency than some of the other brands on the list, like maple syrup.
  • Dosing & flavors. The Gel comes in Fruit Punch flavor and is 15 g of carbs per container (32 mL).
  • Convenience factor. The Gel has a rip-away top, which many users reported was difficult to take off, especially while having a low blood sugar.
  • User feedback. This product received 4.4 out of 5 stars on Walgreens’ website. Like the other gels on this list, users said they had difficulty opening the package but were impressed by its fast results. Diagnosed1980 says, “It is runnier than the name brand, but could still work except for the lousy packaging. I was low enough that I could not drink juice. My husband tore it open, tried to get it in my mouth, and immediately cut my upper lip. So, I started struggling, and all he could manage was a tiny bit in my mouth. The rigid tube with a blunt tip is far superior.”
  • Cost. $3.99 for one gel packet
  • Where to buy. Walgreens

Glutose15

  • Form factor: Glutose15 offers single-use gel tubes with a twist off top. They are about 3 inches long, and can easily fit into your pocket or purse.
  • Dosing & flavors. The Gel comes in Lemon and Grape flavor and is 15 g of carbs per container.
  • Convenience factor. The Gel has a twist-away top, which is easier to remove than many of the other tear-away options listed here.
  • User feedback. This product received 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Many users said it that using it saved their lives. “Fast shipping,” says ksd, “Great product to take in the event that your sugar drops dangerously low. I’ve come close to passing out several times, and this product is my go-to for bringing up my sugar levels fast. Great for that emergency situation.”
  • Cost. $17.41 for a 3 pack
  • Where to buy. Amazon

Transcend Glucose Gel

  • Form factor. Transcend offers a single-use 1.1 oz gel tube with a tear-away top. The consistency is a little more watery than most.
  • Dosing & flavors. This gel comes in Strawberry and Orange flavors, with 15 g of carbs per container.
  • Convenience factor. The tear-off top seems to work well, and it’s easy to squeeze this product into your mouth.
  • User feedback. The orange glucose gel received 4.6 out of 5 stars on the Transcend website. Users reported great taste, saying it was less sweet and artificial tasting than other gels. Charity F. says, “I will hit a low and not only do these bring me up fast (!), they also keep me at a stable blood sugar for quite a while after.”
  • Cost. $69.95 for 40 mixed flavor pouches ($1.75/pouch), and $94.95 for 60 mixed flavor pouches ($1.59/pouch). Transcend also offers 15 percent off if you purchase a subscription.
  • Where to buy. Transcend website and Amazon

The form factor of most glucose tablets and gels are similar, besides the slight differences in texture and flavor. The best bang-for-your-buck is the ReliOn option, but if you are looking for a wide array of flavors you may want to try out Dex4. Also, gummies are a newer option but may be less convenient to carry because they easily melt together if they get too warm.

As with all things diabetes, you’ll need to do some trial testing to figure out what works best for your tastes and your body.

The big advantage of these packaged glucose products (versus juice and candy) is that you know exactly how much fast-acting carbs you’re taking in, so as not to overtreat your low blood sugar.