What is glucagon?

Glucagon is a hormone that helps the liver release glucose in order to raise blood-sugar levels. It can be administered through injection, auto-injection pen or nasal spray.

Glucagon is generally used when a person with type 1 diabetes (T1D) is unable to swallow liquid or food because of severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) symptoms, including extreme drowsiness, unconsciousness or seizure. It is important to have glucagon on hand in case of an emergency and ensure others (especially caregivers of children with T1D) know where it is kept and how to use it.  

Directions on how to administer each type of glucagon are included with product packaging. Familiarize yourself with how to use your prescription as soon as you receive it and ask your pharmacist for further explanation if needed. Routinely check your prescription’s expiration date and replace it as needed.

After administering glucagon, turn the treated the individual on their side, call 911 and stay with them until help arrives.

For more information about glucagon and severe hypoglycemia, consult JDRF’s guidelines about hypoglycemiaJDRF’s hypoglycemia One Pager for parents and caregivers [PDF], Beyond Type 1’s “Let’s Talk Lows” resources, Lilly’s “Know Before the Low” resources, and our blog, “Severe Hypoglycemia: Be Prepared, not Afraid.”

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