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Update Date 08/05/2020 . 6 mins read
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Know the basics

What is glucagon used for?

Glucagon is a hormone that increases blood sugar levels. It is naturally produced by the pancreas but the glucagon used as a drug is synthesized in a lab and is identical to the naturally produced glucagon. It also slows involuntary muscle movements of the stomach and intestines that aid in digestion.

Glucagon is used to treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Glucagon is also used during a radiologic (x-ray) examination to help diagnose certain disorders of the stomach or intestines.

Glucagon may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

How should I take glucagon?

Glucagon is injected under the skin, into a muscle, or into a vein. You will be shown how to use emergency glucagon injections for severe hypoglycemia. Call your doctor after each time you use a glucagon injection.

This medication comes with instructions for safe and effective use for you or a caregiver. Become familiar with these instructions and follow them carefully whenever you need to use a glucagon injection. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Hypoglycemia should be treated as quickly as possible. Having low blood sugar for too long can cause seizure, coma, or death.

After the injection, you should eat a source of sugar (fruit juice, glucose gel, raisins, non-diet soda) and then eat a snack or small meal such as cheese and crackers or a meat sandwich.

Be sure you know how to give a glucagon injection before you need to use it. Use half of the adult dose if you are giving an injection to a child younger than 6, or to anyone who weighs less than 55 pounds.

Glucagon is a powder medicine that must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) before using it. Prepare your dose in a syringe only when you are ready to give an injection. Do not use the medication if it has changed colors or has particles in it. Mix a new dose, and call your doctor for instructions if the second dose also has particles after mixing.

If you are a caregiver, get emergency medical help after giving a glucagon injection. If the patient does not wake up within 15 minutes, you may need to mix a new dose and give a second injection.

Know the signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and how to recognize them: headache, hunger, weakness, sweating, tremors, irritability, or trouble concentrating.

Always keep a source of sugar available in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. If you have severe hypoglycemia and cannot eat or drink, use an injection of glucagon. Be sure your family and close friends know how to help you in an emergency.

Check your blood sugar carefully during a time of stress or illness, if you travel, exercise more than usual, drink alcohol, or skip meals. These things can affect your glucose levels and your diabetes medication dose needs may also change.

Ask your doctor how to adjust your diabetes medication dose if needed. Do not change your medication dose or schedule without your doctor’s advice.

To keep from having severe hypoglycemia, follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely

How do I store glucagon?

Glucagon is best stored in the refrigerator at 68 to 77°F. To prevent drug damage, do not freeze. There may be different brands of glucagon that may have different storage and preparation needs. Some preparations of glucagon are required to be reconstituted with sterile water for injection or another appropriate diluent. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush glucagon down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using glucagon?

Before using glucagon,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to glucagon, any other drugs, or beef or pork products.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, including vitamins.
  • tell your doctor if you have ever had adrenal gland problems, blood vessel disease, malnutrition, pancreatic tumors, insulinoma, or pheochromocytoma.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding.

Is it safe to take glucagon during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category B according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of glucagon?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; fast or slow heartbeat; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Less serious side effects may include nausea or vomiting.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with glucagon?

Glucagon may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Acenocoumarol, Anisindione, Dicumarol, Phenindione, Phenprocoumon, Warfarin.

Does food or alcohol interact with glucagon?

Glucagon may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with glucagon?

Glucagon may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Diabetes mellitus—When glucagon is used for test or x-ray procedures in patients with diabetes that is well-controlled, a rise in blood sugar may occur; otherwise, glucagon is an important part of the management of diabetes because it is used to treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • Insulinoma (tumors of the pancreas gland that make too much insulin) (or history of)—Blood sugar concentrations may decrease.
  • Pheochromocytoma—Glucagon can cause high blood pressure.

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Glucagon for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Hypoglycemia

1 mg given via SC, IM or IV injection. Administer oral carbohydrates (such as candy or soft drinks) once the patient has responded. 

If there is no response w/in 10 min, give IV glucose. Glucagon dose may be repeated if necessary.

Usual Adult Dose for Diagnostic

Diagnostic aid in radiographic examination of stomach, duodenum, and small bowel when diminished intestinal motility would be advantageous:

For relaxation of stomach, duodenal bulb, duodenum, and small bowel: 1 mg. 

For relaxation of colon: 1-2 mg.

What is the dose of Glucagon for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Hypoglycemia

Children weighing <25 kg: 0.5 mg; 

Children weighing ≥25 kg: Same as adult dose.

How is glucagon available?

Glucagon is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Kit, Injection: 1 mg

Solution Reconstituted, Injection, as hydrochloride: 1 mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of glucagon, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

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

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