Glucagon is a hormone that raises the level of glucose in the blood. The alpha cells of the pancreas, in areas called the islets of Langerhans, make glucagon when the body needs to put more sugar into the blood.
Glucagon Emergency Kit
Everyone who uses insulin should have a glucagon emergency kit on hand at all times to counteract severe hypoglycemia that causes loss of consciousness, or if sugar cannot be given. The glucagon kit should be stored where all the family members know where to find it. Storage temperatures should be under 90 degrees F (28 degrees C).
Never give food to a person with diabetes who is unconscious from hypoglycemia. Always inject glucagon, or arrange for the person to obtain intravenous glucose.
Glucagon, like insulin, must be injected. Within the glucagon kit are a syringe pre-filled with a liquid and a vial of powdered glucagon. You prepare the glucagon for injection immediately before use by following the instructions that are included with the glucagon kit. In general, small children (under 20 kg, or 44 pounds) are given 1/2 cc (half the syringe), while older children and adults are given 1cc (the entire syringe). In kids, some authorities advise using 1/2 cc to start with, then giving the other 1/2 about 20 minutes later if needed. This method can lessen the rebound hyperglycemia that usually ensues after use of glucagon. There is no danger of overdose, however. Injection is given in a large muscle, such as the buttocks, thigh or arm. (The needle on the syringe is usually larger than those on insulin syringes.)
A report from a group investigating a closed loop insulin delivery system indicates that glucagon is sufficiently stable for one week after mixing to still be effective (see Report from Diabetes Technology Meeting 2006). For parents, this means that you could mix up glucagon prior to going away on vacation, for example, and have it ready to use. Note that this use is off label and not recommended by the makers of the product.
Glucagon can cause vomiting, so be sure to place the person on his or her side prior to injecting so they do not choke. After injecting glucagon, follow with food once the person regains consciousness and is able to swallow.
In the United States, the glucagon kit is dispensed by prescription only. Bedford Labs also makes a glucagon injection kit that is sold only through hospital pharmacies. Your doctor can get it for you.
For Additional Information
The GlucaGen® HypoKit® from Novo Nordisk. Click on the image for a larger photo.
The GlucaGen® HypoKit® from Novo Nordisk showing the contents. Click on the image for a larger photo.
The Glucagon Emergency Kit from Eli Lilly. Click on the image for a larger photo.
The Glucagon Emergency Kit from Eli Lilly showing the contents. Click on the image for a larger graphic.
GlucaGen by Bedford Labs
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