Dextrose: Preparations, Administration, Precautions, Use in Children, Side Effects and Prognosis

It is the name of simple sugar made from corn and is chemically identical to glucose or sugar in the blood.

Dextrose is often used in baking products as a sweetener, and it can be commonly found in products such as processed foods and corn syrup.

Dextrose also has medicinal purposes. It dissolves in solutions that are given through a vein, combined with other drugs, or used to raise a person’s blood sugar.

Because dextrose is a “simple” sugar, the body can quickly use it for energy.

Simple sugars can raise blood sugar levels very quickly, and they often lack nutritional value. Examples of other simple sugars include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Products generally made from simple sugars include refined sugar, white pasta, and honey.

What are the common dextrose preparations?

Dextrose is used to prepare various intravenous (IV) preparations or mixtures available only in a hospital or medical center.

Dextrose is also available as an oral gel or in oral tablets.


Each concentration of dextrose has its unique uses. Higher concentrations are generally used as a “rescue” dose when someone has a shallow blood sugar reading.

How to use it?

Dextrose is used in various concentrations for different purposes. For example, a doctor may prescribe dextrose in an IV solution when someone is dehydrated and has low blood sugar.

IV dextrose solutions can also be combined with many medications for IV administration.

Dextrose is a carbohydrate part of the nutrition in a standard diet. Solutions containing dextrose provide calories and can be administered intravenously in combination with amino acids and fats.

This is called total parenteral nutrition  (TPN) and is used to provide nutrition for those who cannot absorb or obtain carbohydrates, amino acids, and fats through their intestines.

Professionals only give high concentration dextrose injections. These injections are given to people whose blood sugar may be very low and cannot swallow dextrose tablets, food, or drinks.

If a person’s potassium levels are too high ( hyperkalemia ), doctors sometimes give 50 percent dextrose injections, followed by intravenous insulin. This can be done in the hospital setting.

When cells take in the extra glucose, they also take in potassium. This helps lower the potassium levels in a person’s blood. Dextrose is given to prevent the person from having hypoglycemia.

People with diabetes or hypoglycemia (chronically low blood sugar) can carry dextrose gel or tablets if their blood sugar drops too low.

The gel or tablets dissolve in a person’s mouth and quickly increase blood sugar levels. If a person’s blood sugar level is below 70 mg / dL and he has low blood sugar symptoms, they may need to take dextrose tablets.

Examples of low blood sugar symptoms include weakness, confusion, sweating, and a heart rate that is too fast.

What precautions should I take when using dextrose?

A health care provider should not give dextrose to people with certain medical conditions. This is because dextrose could cause excess sugar in the blood or fluid changes in the body that lead to swelling or fluid build-up in the lungs.

Avoid dextrose

  • If you have hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels.
  • If you have hypokalemia or low potassium levels in your blood.
  • If you have peripheral edema or swelling in your arms, feet, or legs.
  • If you have pulmonary edema when fluids build up in the lungs.
  • If you have diabetes and your doctor prescribes oral dextrose gel or tablets, these should only be used for a low blood sugar reaction.

Your doctor or diabetes educator should teach you how to detect the signs of low blood sugar and when to use them.

If you need to keep the gel or tablets on hand, you should carry them with you and keep them at home. Your doctor should also explain to other family members when to use the gel or tablets if others need to give them to you.

If you are allergic to corn, you could have an allergic reaction to dextrose. Talk to your doctor before using it.

Check your blood sugar level while using the medicine.

Even if you do not have certain conditions, it is essential to continually monitor your blood sugar level if you are receiving dextrose. This can ensure that dextrose does not dangerously raise blood sugar.

You can monitor your blood sugar level with home tests that involve testing blood from a prick on a blood strip. For those physically unable to test their blood at home, urine glucose tests are available, although they are not as reliable.

If you find that you or someone else has an adverse reaction due to low blood sugar, dextrose tablets should be taken immediately.

According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, four glucose tablets are equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate and can be taken for low blood sugar (unless your doctor tells you otherwise).

Chew the tablets thoroughly before swallowing. No water is needed, and your symptoms should improve within 20 minutes. If they do not, see your doctor.

Dextrose gel often comes in single-serving tubes, poured directly into the mouth, and swallowed. If you have not felt any positive change after 10 minutes, repeat with another tube.

If your blood sugar is still too low after an additional 10 minutes, contact your doctor.

Dextrose in children

Dextrose can be used in children similarly to how it is used in adults, as a medical intervention for hypoglycemia.

In severe pediatric hypoglycemia, children are often given dextrose intravenously. Early treatment in children and babies with hypoglycemia is essential, as untreated hypoglycemia can cause neurological damage.

If they can take it, dextrose can be given to children by mouth.

In the case of neonatal hypoglycemia, which can be caused by various disorders, such as metabolic defects or hyperinsulinism, babies can add small amounts of dextrose gel to their diet to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Consult your doctor about how much dextrose to add to your diet. Babies born prematurely are at risk for hypoglycemia and may receive dextrose intravenously.

Dextrose powder and bodybuilding

Dextrose is naturally calorie-dense, and it is easy for the body to break down for energy. Because of this, dextrose powder is readily available and is sometimes used as a nutritional supplement by bodybuilders looking to gain weight and muscle mass.

While the increased calories and easy-to-breakdown nature of dextrose may benefit bodybuilders or those looking to increase muscle mass, it is essential to note that dextrose lacks other essential nutrients that are needed to achieve this goal.

Those nutrients include protein and fat. The simple sugars in powdered dextrose also make them easier to break down. In contrast, the complex sugars and carbohydrates may benefit bodybuilders more as they are more successful in helping to burn fat.

What are the side effects?

Dextrose must be given carefully to people who have diabetes, as they may not be able to process dextrose as quickly as someone without the condition would. Dextrose can raise your blood sugar level too high, known as hyperglycemia.

Symptoms include

  • The fruity smell on my breath.
  • Increased thirst with no known causes.
  • Dry Skin.
  • Dehydration.
  • Nausea.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Stomach ache.
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Urinate frequently
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion.

Effect on blood sugar

If you need to use dextrose, your blood sugar level may increase. You should test your blood sugar level after using dextrose tablets, as directed by your doctor or diabetes educator.

You may need to adjust your insulin to lower your blood sugar.

If you are given intravenous fluids with dextrose in the hospital, your nurse will monitor your blood sugar. If the blood sugar tests are too high, the dose of the IV fluids can be adjusted or even stopped until the blood sugar level reaches a safer level.

You may also receive insulin to help lower your blood sugar.


The simple sugar composition of dextrose makes it sound like a treatment for hypoglycemia and low blood sugar for patients of all ages, with some treatment options that are convenient and portable. It is safe to use it long-term as needed.

However, dextrose is safe, and even those who do not have diabetes must carefully monitor their blood sugar level when taking it.

Always consult a doctor before stopping diabetes treatment or if you test your blood sugar and it is high.

If you have glucose tablets or gel in your home, keep them away from children. Large amounts taken by young children could be hazardous.