Glucagon: Indications, How to Use, Side Effects and Precautions

It is a hormone, its effect causes the liver to release glucose into the blood. It belongs to the group of drugs called hyperglycemic agents.


It is used to treat severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when a person with diabetes treated with insulin cannot administer glucose (eg, unconscious state).

This medicine works in the liver to produce glucose (sugar) and increase blood sugar. It usually works within 10-15 minutes.

If a person does not respond to this medicine within 10 to 15 minutes, they should get immediate medical attention.

Glucagon can also be used as part of certain radiological tests to temporarily slow down the movement of the stomach and intestines.

How to use

This medicine is given as an injection into a vein, arm, leg muscle, or under the skin, as directed on the package.

Glucagon comes as a powder, which must first be dissolved using a dilution fluid provided on the package.

This medicine should be used immediately after mixing.

The usual dose of this medicine for adults and children weighing more than 20 kg is 1 mg (1 unit) injected.

For children weighing less than 20 kg, the dose is 0.5 mg (0.5 units) or relative to their body weight.

Injections into a vein are administered by healthcare professionals with the proper training and supplies to do so.

To give a glucagon injection under the skin, the injection must first be prepared. Once prepared, it is used immediately and should not be saved for later use.

It is recommended to follow the following steps:

  • Remove the seal from the glucagon vial (bottle).
  • Remove the needle shield from the syringe and inject the entire contents of the syringe into the glucagon bottle (you should not remove the plastic clamp from the syringe).
  • Gently shake the bottle until the glucagon is completely dissolved. Glucagon should not be used unless the solution is clearly and completely dissolved.
  • Using the same syringe, hold the bottle upside down and ensure that the tip of the needle remains in the solution, then all the necessary solution should be withdrawn.
  • The injection site (arm or thigh) should be cleaned with an alcohol swab or swab.
  • The needle should be inserted into the adipose tissue below the clean injection site and the glucagon solution is injected. There is no danger of overdose.
  • Apply light pressure to the injection site and withdraw the needle. A swab or alcohol swab should then be pressed against the injection site.
  • Put the patient on his side. When an unconscious person wakes up, they can vomit. Putting the patient on their side will prevent them from choking.

As soon as the patient responds to this medication, they should eat glucose (candy, orange juice, etc.) to prevent the low blood sugar from returning and contact their doctor.

It is necessary to inform a doctor when the patient experiences an episode of hypoglycemia so that his insulin dose and diet can be adjusted if necessary.

The patient must closely monitor his blood sugar level to prevent it from dropping too low and being risky.

When used as part of a medical procedure, a sugar replacement should be given immediately after the test to avoid low blood sugar.

This medicine is usually given by family members or friends, as it should not be used unless the person needing the medicine cannot take the glucose by mouth.

The patient should make sure that these people are familiar with when and how to use this medicine and where it is stored.

Side effects

Side effects can vary and depend on the body of each patient.

Nausea is the most common side effect, vomiting can occasionally occur, however both are also signs of low blood sugar.

Allergy symptoms like skin rash and trouble breathing have been reported with this drug.

It is important for the patient to inform a doctor if they experience any of these effects.

Likewise, if the person notices other effects not mentioned above, they should contact their doctor or pharmacist.


The patient should not use this medicine if:

  • You are allergic to the hormone or any ingredient in the medication.
  • You have pheochromocytoma (a tumor in the adrenal glands).

All patients with diabetes should have their glucagon emergency kit available.

In addition, friends and family of a diabetic patient should be aware of the symptoms of hypoglycemia and receive instructions on how to administer glucagon if necessary.

Detailed patient instructions are provided with the medicine, you should be sure to read them completely and ask your doctor for any questions you may have.

This medicine should only be used during pregnancy if clearly necessary. Since the effect of the same in breast milk is not known for sure.

It is necessary to take into account the symptoms of hypoglycemia, which are:

  • Stomach ache.
  • Feeling anxious
  • Shaking chills.
  • Cold skin.
  • Difficult to focus.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Hunger in the after hours.
  • Fast heart rate
  • Headache.
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Instability.
  • Vision changes or weakness.

The patient should eat or drink a source of sugar if they experience these symptoms. It is recommended that you ask for help to go to a hospital if your symptoms do not improve.

If severe symptoms occur, people with diabetes should not eat or drink as emergency medical help is needed.

The patient should regain consciousness within 20 minutes of administering the dose.

If this does not happen, a second dose can be given. A source of sugar should be administered when the patient regains consciousness.

Glucagon is only effective for 90 minutes and should be used only until the patient is able to swallow.

The blood sugar level should be maintained by eating snacks consisting of crackers, cheese, half a sandwich, or a glass of milk.

The blood sugar level should be checked every hour for 3 to 4 hours after regaining consciousness.