Glucagon is a hormone produced by the pancreas that causes the liver to release its stored sugar into the bloodstream. Glucagon is also available as a prescription medicine that comes in prefilled vials and syringes or as a nasal spray. It works in the same way as the natural hormone.
People with diabetes or hypoglycemia sometimes develop very low blood sugar levels. If a person has a very low blood sugar level and is unconscious, or if the person cannot or will not drink or eat something containing sugar, they need glucagon.
Instructions for how to give glucagon should be kept with the medicine. The expiration date should be checked often, as most glucagon kits need to be replaced every 6 months. It should be given by someone who knows how to give it correctly. A person who is having a low blood sugar emergency can safely have more than one dose of glucagon. Make sure the person's blood sugar is checked after giving glucagon. If the person becomes more alert, carefully give a quick-sugar food or liquid.
Current as of: April 13, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Theresa O'Young PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy & David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology & Caroline S. Rhoads MD - Internal Medicine