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Glucagon Injection

Generic Name: glucagon (injection) (GLOO ka gon)
Brand Name: GlucaGen, GlucaGen HypoKit, Glucagon Emergency Kit for Low Blood Sugar, Gvoke HypoPen, Gvoke PFS

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Sep 23, 2020.

What is glucagon?

Glucagon is a hormone that increases blood sugar levels. It also slows involuntary muscle movements of the stomach and intestines that aid in digestion.

Glucagon is a prescription medicine used to treat very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Glucagon is also used to stop stomach movement during radiologic (x-ray) examinations undertaken to diagnose certain disorders of the stomach or intestines.

Glucagon is available as an auto-injector, prefilled syringe, or injection vial.

Important Information

Glucagon should be used to treat hypoglycemia only if the person cannot eat, passes out, or is having a seizure. Be sure you know how to give a glucagon injection before you need to use it. Hypoglycemia should be treated as quickly as possible. Having low blood sugar for too long can cause seizure, coma, or death.

You should not use glucagon injection if you are allergic to glucagon or lactose, or if you have a tumor of the pancreas (insulinoma) or adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma).

Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you have eaten sugar or a product that has sugar in it like a regular soft drink or fruit juice. Avoid these tasks or actions until you feel fully alert.

Low blood sugar can happen with this medicine (glucagon auto-injectors and prefilled syringes) in people who have certain types of pancreas tumors (glucagonoma, insulinoma). Very low blood sugar can lead to seizures, confusion, passing out, and sometimes death. If signs of low blood sugar happen after using this glucagon, get medical help right away.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to glucagon or lactose, or if you have:

  • a tumor of the pancreas (insulinoma); or

  • a tumor of the adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma).

Glucagon should be used to treat hypoglycemia only if the person is unable to eat, or is unconscious or having a seizure.

Tell your doctor if:

  • you have any tumor of the pancreas;

  • you have not recently eaten on a regular basis; or

  • you have chronic low blood sugar.

Do not give this medicine to a child without medical advice.

Glucagon is not expected to harm an unborn baby, but quickly treating hypoglycemia would outweigh any risks posed by using glucagon.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

In an emergency situation it may not be possible to tell your caregivers if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Make sure any doctor caring for your pregnancy or your baby knows you have received this medicine.

How should I use glucagon?

Use glucagon exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Hypoglycemia should be treated as quickly as possible. Having low blood sugar for too long can cause seizure, coma, or death.

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

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you don't understand all instructions.

Be sure you know how to give a glucagon injection before you need to use it. The correct dose for a child is lower than an adult dose. A child's dose may also be based on how much the child weighs. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

You may need to mix glucagon with a liquid (diluent) before using it. When using injections by yourself, be sure you understand how to properly mix and store the medicine.

Prepare an injection only when you are ready to give it. Do not use if the medicine has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

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

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

Blood sugar levels can be affected by stress, illness, surgery, exercise, alcohol use, or skipping meals. Ask your doctor before changing your dose or medication schedule.

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

Store glucagon and any diluent at room temperature, away from moisture, heat, and light. Do not refrigerate or freeze. Throw away any mixed medicine you have not used right away. Do not use this medicine after the expiration date on the label has passed.

Store the auto-injector or prefilled syringe in the foil pouch and use the medicine right away after opening.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since glucagon is used as needed, it does not have a daily dosing schedule.

Call your doctor promptly if symptoms do not improve after using glucagon.

What happens if I overdose?

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

Overdose symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid pulse, or high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears).

What should I avoid after using glucagon?

Avoid drinking alcohol. It can lower your blood sugar.

Glucagon side effects

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

Call your doctor at once if you have any of the following skin changes on your face, legs, groin, or genital area:

  • redness;

  • itching;

  • blistering;

  • crusting, scaling; or

  • other skin sores or lesions.

Common glucagon side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting; or

  • swelling where an injection was given.

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.

What other drugs will affect glucagon?

Many other medicines can affect your blood sugar, and some medicines can increase or decrease the effects of medicines used to treat diabetes. Some drugs can also cause you to have fewer symptoms of hypoglycemia, making it harder to tell when your blood sugar is low. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all medicines you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use glucagon only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions