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glucagon (cont.)

What should I discuss with my health care provider before taking glucagon (GlucaGen)?

Familiarize yourself with the directions included in the glucagon product before you have to use it. This information handout is not intended to replace the specific directions provided with the product. If you did not receive specific directions with your glucagon product talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.

Make sure that your relatives and close friends know that if you become unconscious they should seek medical assistance. Glucagon may have been prescribed so that members of your household can give the injection if you become hypoglycemic and are unable to take sugar by mouth. If you are unconscious, glucagon can be given while awaiting medical assistance. Show your family members and others where you keep the kit and how to use it. They need to know how to use it before you need it. They can practice giving a shot by giving you your normal insulin shots. It is important that they practice. A person who has never given a shot probably will not be able to do it in an emergency.

Glucagon works to treat hypoglycemia when there is liver glycogen. Glucagon will not work properly if you are fasting, or have low levels of adrenaline, chronic hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia caused by drinking too much alcohol.

Because glucagon depletes glycogen stores, you must be given sugar by mouth as soon as you are able to take it after you have responded to the treatment. This will prevent the occurrence of secondary hypoglycemia.

Talk to your doctor if you have been prescribed glucagon and have a tumor that releases glucagon or insulin.

Early symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) include:

  • sweating
  • drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, lightheadedness;
  • sleep disturbances, anxiety, restlessness;
  • palpitation, tremor, unsteady movement;
  • hunger;
  • slurred speech;
  • depressed mood;
  • tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or tongue;
  • headache;
  • personality changes; or
  • abnormal behavior, irritability or inability to concentrate.

If not treated, a patient may progress to severe hypoglycemia reaction that can include disorientation, seizures, unconsciousness, or death.

If you have any of these early symptoms you may need some form of carbohydrate. Patients should always carry a quick source of sugar, such as candy mints or glucose tablets. The prompt treatment of mild hypoglycemic symptoms can prevent severe hypoglycemic reactions. If the patient does not improve or if administration of carbohydrate is impossible, glucagon should be given or the patient should be treated with intravenous glucose at a medical facility.

Give glucagon if:

  • the patient is unconscious;
  • the patient is unable to eat sugar or a sugar-sweetened product;
  • the patient is having a seizure;
  • repeated administration of sugar or a sugar-sweetened product such as a regular soft drink or fruit juice does not improve the patient's condition.

Milder cases of hypoglycemia should be treated promptly by eating sugar or a sugar-sweetened product.

Glucagon is not active when taken by mouth.

Glucagon does not cross the human placenta barrier, and may be used in the treatment of severe hypoglycemia during pregnancy. However, always tell your doctor or healthcare provider if you are pregnant before using any medication.

Breast-feeding following treatment of severe hypoglycemia with glucagon does not put your baby at risk. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

Glucagon (as a powder) should be stored in the refrigerator. However, do not freeze it in order to prevent damage to the syringe.

The GlucaGen vial should be protected from light. GlucaGen HypoKit can be stored at room temperature for 18 months provided that the expiration date is not exceeded.

Reconstituted glucagon should be used immediately after preparation. Do not store for later use.

How should I use glucagon (GlucaGen)?

Familiarize yourself with the directions included in the glucagon product before you have to use it. This information handout is not intended to replace the specific directions provided with the product. If you did not receive specific directions with your glucagon product talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.

Do not prepare glucagon for injection until you are ready to use it. WARNING: THE PATIENT MAY BE IN A COMA FROM SEVERE HYPERGLYCEMIA (HIGH BLOOD GLUCOSE) RATHER THAN HYPOGLYCEMIA. IN SUCH A CASE, THE PATIENT WILL NOT RESPOND TO GLUCAGON AND REQUIRES IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION.

Read the specific directions that come with your glucagon product. Talk to your doctor or health care provider if you did not receive specific directions on how to use this product.

Act quickly. Prolonged unconsciousness may be harmful. Turn patient on his/her side to prevent them from choking.

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