Glucagon

Glucagon treats severe low blood sugar. Is injected during severe hypoglycemic attacks.

Glucagon Overview

Reviewed: August 27, 2012
Updated: 

Glucagon is a prescription medication used to treat insulin coma or insulin reaction from very low blood sugar (severe hypoglycemia) in adults and children with diabetes. Glucagon is a hormone, which helps raise sugar levels in the blood.

This medication comes in an injectable form and is injected in the buttock, arm, or thigh during severe hypoglycemic attacks.

Common side effects of glucagon include nausea, vomiting, and reaction at the injection site.

Patient Ratings for Glucagon

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  • Other
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Bradycardia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypotension
  • Shock, Cardiogenic

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Uses of Glucagon

Glucagon is a prescription medicine used to treat insulin coma or insulin reaction from very low blood sugar (severe hypoglycemia) in adults and children with diabetes.

You should only give glucagon injection if:

1. the person is unconscious or

2. the person is having a seizure or

3. the person is confused and unable to eat sugar or a sugar-sweetened product or

4. the person does not improve from repeated administration of sugar-sweetened products.

Less severe cases of hypoglycemia should be treated right away by eating sugar or a sugar-sweetened product such as a regular soft drink or fruit juice.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

 

Glucagon Brand Names

Glucagon may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Glucagon Drug Class

Glucagon is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Glucagon

Severe side effects are very rare, although nausea and vomiting may occur occasionally.

A few people may be allergic to glucagon or to one of the inactive ingredients in glucagon, or may experience rapid heart beat for a short while.

If you experience any other reactions which are likely to have been caused by glucagon, please contact your doctor.

Glucagon Usage

DIRECTIONS FOR USE

TO PREPARE GLUCAGON FOR INJECTION

  1. Remove the flip-off seal from the bottle of glucagon. Wipe rubber stopper on bottle with alcohol swab.
  2. Remove the needle protector from the syringe, and inject the entire contents of the syringe into the bottle of glucagon. DO NOT REMOVE THE PLASTIC CLIP FROM THE SYRINGE. Remove syringe from the bottle.
  3. Swirl bottle gently until glucagon dissolves completely. GLUCAGON SHOULD NOT BE USED UNLESS THE SOLUTION IS CLEAR AND OF A WATER-LIKE CONSISTENCY.

TO INJECT GLUCAGON

Use Same Technique as for Injecting Insulin

  • Using the same syringe, hold bottle upside down and, making sure the needle tip remains in solution, gently withdraw all of the solution (1 mg mark on syringe) from bottle. The plastic clip on the syringe will prevent the rubber stopper from being pulled out of the syringe; however, if the plastic plunger rod separates from the rubber stopper, simply reinsert the rod by turning it clockwise. The usual adult dose is 1 mg (1 unit). For children weighing less than 44 lb (20 kg), give 1/2 adult dose (0.5 mg). For children, withdraw 1/2 of the solution from the bottle (0.5 mg mark on syringe). DISCARD UNUSED PORTION.

USING THE FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS, INJECT GLUCAGON IMMEDIATELY AFTER MIXING.

  1. Cleanse injection site on buttock, arm, or thigh with alcohol swab.
  2. Insert the needle into the loose tissue under the cleansed injection site, and inject all (or 1/2 for children weighing less than 44 lb) of the glucagon solution. THERE IS NO DANGER OF OVERDOSE. Apply light pressure at the injection site, and withdraw the needle. Press an alcohol swab against the injection site.
  3. Turn the patient on his/her side. When an unconscious person awakens, he/she may vomit. Turning the patient on his/her side will prevent him/her from choking.
  4. FEED THE PATIENT AS SOON AS HE/SHE AWAKENS AND IS ABLE TO SWALLOW. Give the patient a fast-acting source of sugar (such as a regular soft drink or fruit juice) and a long-acting source of sugar (such as crackers and cheese or a meat sandwich). If the patient does not awaken within 15 minutes, give another dose of glucagon and INFORM A DOCTOR OR EMERGENCY SERVICES IMMEDIATELY.
  5. Even if the glucagon revives the patient, his/her doctor should be promptly notified. A doctor should be notified whenever severe hypoglycemic reactions occur.

Information on hypoglycemia - Early symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) include:

  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • palpitation
  • tremor
  • hunger
  • restlessness
  • tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or tongue
  • lightheadedness
  • inability to concentrate
  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • sleep disturbances
  • anxiety
  • blurred vision
  • slurred speech
  • depressed mood
  • irritability
  • abnormal behavior
  • unsteady movement
  • personality changes

If not treated, the patient may progress to severe hypoglycemia that can include:

  • disorientation
  • unconsciousness
  • seizures
  • death

The occurrence of early symptoms calls for prompt and, if necessary, repeated administration of some form of carbohydrate. Patients should always carry a quick source of sugar, such as candy mints or glucose tablets. The prompt treatment of mild hypoglycemic symptoms can prevent severe hypoglycemic reactions. If the patient does not improve or if administration of carbohydrate is impossible, glucagon should be given or the patient should be treated with intravenous glucose at a medical facility. Glucagon, a naturally occurring substance produced by the pancreas, is helpful because it enables the patient to produce his/her own blood glucose to correct the hypoglycemia.

Other Requirements

Before dissolving glucagon with diluting solution, store the kit at controlled room temperature between 20° to 25°C (68° to 77°F).

After dissolving glucagon with diluting solution it should be used immediately. Discard any unused portion. Solutions should be clear and of a water-like consistency at time of use.