Diabetes: Glucagon Shot

What is glucagon used for?

Glucagon shots may be given to treat a dangerously low blood sugar.

If you have diabetes, talk to your provider about the need to keep glucagon on hand in case of an emergency.

How does it work?

Like insulin, glucagon is a hormone made in the pancreas. The 2 hormones have opposite effects.

  • Insulin moves sugar out of the blood and into the cells. It keeps blood sugar from getting too high.
  • Glucagon moves sugar stored in the liver into the blood. It keeps blood sugar from getting too low.

If you have type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make enough glucagon. If you cannot make enough glucagon, you may not be able to raise your blood sugar when it gets too low. The glucagon shot does the work of the pancreas and raises the blood sugar.

What else do I need to know about this medicine?

  • Glucagon comes in an emergency kit. The glucagon is a powder that must be mixed before use. Be sure you know how to mix the powder and liquid and how to give the shot.
  • Follow the directions that come with the medicine, including information about food or alcohol. Make sure you know how and when you need to take the medicine. You should not take more or less than you are supposed to take.
  • Right after you have a shot of this medicine and start to feel better, you may need to eat a fast-acting source of sugar, such as a regular soft drink or fruit juice, and food with protein and fat, such as crackers and cheese or a meat sandwich. Ask your healthcare provider about this.
  • Try to get all of your prescriptions filled at the same place. Your pharmacist can help make sure that all of your medicines are safe to take together.
  • Keep a list of your medicines with you. List all of the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that you take. Tell all healthcare providers who treat you about all of the products you take.
  • Many medicines have side effects. A side effect is a symptom or problem that is caused by the medicine. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what side effects the medicine may cause, and what you should do if you have side effects.

If you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information. Be sure to keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-01-27
Last reviewed: 2014-03-17
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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