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Glucagon Function: What Roles Does It Play When It Comes to Our Health?

Glucagon Function: What Roles Does It Play When It Comes to Our Health?

Hormones are chemicals that play an important role in our body’s functions. And for people with diabetes, people usually think of insulin when the topic of hormones is brought up. However, there is another hormone, glucagon, which plays an important role in our body. Read on to learn more about glucagon function, as well as how it helps people with diabetes.

Glucagon Function: What Is This Hormone?

One of the more complicated tasks that our body does is balancing the levels of sugar in our blood. Too much sugar in the blood can cause damage to our blood vessels, organs, and even the nerves. If the blood sugar gets too low, then symptoms such as dizziness or lethargy can occur. If it gets very low, it can even cause a person to pass out, or experience a diabetic coma.

In order to manage the levels of sugar in the blood, our body uses hormones. One of these hormones is insulin, which helps prevent blood sugar levels from becoming too high. It does this by aiding the body in absorbing excess sugar in the bloodstream.

Another important hormone is known as glucagon, which prevents blood sugar levels from becoming too low. It does this by telling the liver to release the body’s glucose stores into the bloodstream1.

This balancing act by insulin and glucagon function helps keep our blood sugar levels stable, and prevents it from becoming too high, or too low2. But what about persons with diabetes? How does glucagon affect their blood sugar levels?

What About Diabetics?

In persons with diabetes, one concern with glucagon is that it can potentially increase blood sugar levels3. For persons with type 1 diabetes, this can happen as a result of the body not producing insulin to lower blood sugar levels.

Another possible scenario that could happen in type 1 diabetics is if they inject too much insulin in their bloodstream. What this does is it inhibits the production of glucagon in the pancreas. This can cause blood sugar levels to become dangerously low.

Type 2 diabetics on the other hand, can experience elevated blood sugar levels because of glucagon function. This is because in type 2 diabetics, the body has developed a resistance to insulin, so it can no longer effectively counteract the effects of glucagon.

Diabetics also need to be aware of when the body produces glucagon. If they eat carbohydrate-rich foods, what happens is that the production of glucagon decreases in order to prevent blood sugar levels from increasing. On the other hand, if they eat more protein than carbohydrates, the pancreas produce more glucagon to increase blood sugar levels in the body.

Glucagon To Elevate Blood Sugar Levels

In some cases, doctors may administer glucagon through an injection to help increase blood sugar levels. This is done in patients who have hypoglycemia, or very low blood sugar levels. Typically, persons with type 1 diabetes are the ones injected with glucagon if their blood sugar drops too low4.

Some patients might also be prescribed medication to help regulate the production of glucagon in the body. Typically, these medications decrease the levels of glucagon in order to help lower blood sugar.

Key Takeaways

Knowing the function of the hormones in our body can help us take better care of ourselves. This is especially true for diabetics, since glucagon function can have a direct impact on their overall health.

Staying informed about how the body works, and how our activities impact our health can help us become more mindful of the things that we do, and how we care for our body.

Learn more about Diabetes here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1 Glucagon | Hormone Health Network, https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/glucagon#:~:text=Glucagon%20is%20a%20hormone%20that,body’s%20blood%20glucose%20levels%20stable., Accessed November 24, 2021

2 Glucagon | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology, https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/glucagon/, Accessed November 24, 2021

3 Glucagon – What is Glucago, Role of Glucago, Glucagon Secretion, https://www.diabetes.co.uk/body/glucagon.html, Accessed November 24, 2021

4 Glucagon Injection: MedlinePlus Drug Information, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682480.html, Accessed November 24, 2021

5 Glucose Metabolism and Regulation: Beyond Insulin and Glucagon | Diabetes Spectrum, https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/17/3/183, Accessed November 24, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 2 days ago
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran