Glucagon is a hormone produced by the pancreas that causes the
liver to release its stored sugar into the bloodstream. Glucagon is also
available as a prescription medicine that comes in prefilled vials and syringes
and works in the same way as the natural hormone.
People with diabetes or hypoglycemia sometimes develop very low
blood sugar levels. If a person has a
very low blood sugar level and is unconscious, or if the person cannot or will
not drink or eat something containing sugar, he or she needs a glucagon
Instructions for how to give a glucagon shot should be kept with
the medicine. The expiration date should be checked often, as most glucagon
kits need to be replaced every 6 months. The shot should be given by someone
who knows how to give it correctly. A person who is having a low blood sugar
emergency can safely have more than one glucagon shot. Make sure the person's
blood sugar is checked after giving the glucagon shot. If the person becomes
more alert, carefully give a quick-sugar food or liquid.
July 11, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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