Jul 21, 2022

What is Dextrose?

Dextrose is a simple sugar made from starch. Starch is a naturally occurring complex carbohydrate found in many plants, including corn, wheat, rice, and potato. The most common source of dextrose is corn starch.

Dextrose, when used as a medication, is given either by mouth (orally) or by injection. Dextrose is also known as D-glucose.

Dextrose is used to treat very  low blood sugar  ( hypoglycemia ), most often in people with  diabetes mellitus . Dextrose is given by injection to treat  insulin  shock (low blood sugar caused by using  insulin  and then not eating a meal or eating enough food afterward). Dextrose works by quickly increasing the amount of glucose in your blood. Glucose is found in foods rich in carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, potatoes, fruit, pasta, and rice. Glucose is a source of energy, and all the cells and organs in your body need glucose to function properly.

Dextrose is also used to provide carbohydrate calories to a person who cannot eat because of illness, trauma, or other medical condition. It is sometimes given to people who are sick from drinking too much alcohol.

Dextrose may also be used to treat  hyperkalemia  (high levels of potassium in your blood).


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

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions,  allergies , and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take Dextrose tablets, liquid, or gel if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in these forms of the medicine, or are allergic to corn products.

If possible before you receive this medicine, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • diabetes (unless you are using dextrose to treat  insulin -induced hypoglycemia);
  • heart disease,  coronary artery disease , or a stroke;
  • asthma ;
  • kidney disease;
  • a possible  head injury ;
  • alcoholism ; or
  • any food allergies.

Ask a doctor before using Dextrose if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

How should I use Dextrose?

Use Dextrose exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

The chewable tablet must be chewed before you swallow it.

If you take Dextrose gel in a pre-measured tube, be sure to swallow the entire contents of the tube to get a full dose.

Your hypoglycemia symptoms should improve in about 10 minutes after taking oral Dextrose. If not, take another dose. Seek medical attention if you still have hypoglycemia symptoms after taking two doses.

Dextrose injection is given through an IV into a vein. Do not inject this medicine into a muscle or under the skin. The injection should be given only as an intravenous (IV) injection and should be given slowly. Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when Dextrose is injected.

You may be shown how to use an IV at home. Do not give yourself Dextrose injection if you do not understand how to use the injection and properly dispose of needles, IV tubing, and other items used.

Use a disposable needle, syringe, or prefilled syringe only once. Follow any state or local laws about throwing away used needles and syringes. Use a puncture-proof “sharps” disposal container (ask your pharmacist where to get one and how to throw it away). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse.

Check the  expiration date  on your medicine label each time you use this medicine. If the medicine has been stored for a long time, the expiration date may have passed and the Dextrose may not work as well.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the medicine container tightly closed when not in use.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since Dextrose is used when needed, it does not have a daily dosing schedule. Call your doctor promptly if your symptoms do not improve after using dextrose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while using Dextrose?

Follow your doctor’s instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Dextrose side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Dextrose:  hives ; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers or call your doctor right away if you have:

  • redness, swelling, warmth, or skin changes where an injection was given;
  • confusion;
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
  • fever;
  • swelling in your hands or feet; or
  • sweating, pale skin, severe shortness of breath, chest pain.

Common side effects of a Dextrose injection may include:

  • pain or tenderness where an injection was given; or
  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling) for several minutes after a Dextrose injection.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Dextrose side effects  (more detail)

What other drugs will affect Dextrose?

Other drugs may interact with dextrose, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines,  vitamins , and  herbal products . Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

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