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Glucagon

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

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Sep 19, 2018 – Written by Cerner Multum

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 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.

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 if you are allergic to glucagon or lactose, or if you have a tumor of the pancreas (insulinoma) or adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma).

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 ever had:

  • you have any tumor of the pancreas;

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

  • you have chronic low blood sugar.

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 breast-feed 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?

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 emergency glucagon 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 do not understand these instructions.

Glucagon is a powder medicine that must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) before using it. Prepare a dose only when you are ready to give an injection. Do not use if the medicine 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.

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.

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 wake up within 15 minutes, you may need to mix a new dose and give a second injection.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can happen to everyone who has diabetes. Symptoms include headache, hunger, sweating, irritability, dizziness, nausea, fast heart rate, and feeling anxious or shaky. To quickly treat low blood sugar, always keep a fast-acting source of sugar with you such as fruit juice, hard candy, crackers, raisins, or non-diet soda.

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

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, nosebleed, anxiety, confusion, severe chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats).

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: 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 side effects may include nausea or vomiting.

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 this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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

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