Topic Overview

This information is for people who may need to give a person with diabetes an injection of glucagon during a low blood sugar emergency.

Giving a glucagon injection is similar to giving insulin. Practice giving your partner or child an insulin injection at least once a month so you will be more ready if you need to give someone glucagon in an emergency.

Keep information on how to give glucagon with the glucagon medicine, and review these steps often.

Preparing a glucagon injection

A syringe and one bottle in the package:  

  • This glucagon emergency kit has a syringe that contains liquid (diluent) and a bottle that contains the medicine.
  • Follow these steps when you have this kit:
      1. Remove cap from the bottle.
      2. Insert the needle into the bottle and push the liquid in.
      3. Remove the syringe. Some preparations may indicate keeping the syringe in the bottle. Refer to the instructions with the kit.
      4. Gently swirl the bottle until the liquid becomes clear.
      5. Insert the syringe back into the bottle, and withdraw the medicine.

Two bottles in the package:

  • This kit contains two bottles, a bottle of glucagon powder and a bottle of diluent, and a syringe.
  • Follow these steps when you have this kit:
  1. Remove the seal from the tops of both bottles. Don’t touch the rubber area on the bottle tops.
  2. Take the cover off the needle of the syringe.
  3. Insert the needle into the bottle that contains liquid (diluent) and pull back on the plunger to draw the liquid into the syringe.
  4. Remove the needle from the bottle, and insert it into the bottle that contains glucagon powder.
  5. Push the plunger to force the liquid from the syringe into the glucagon bottle. Make sure the plunger of the syringe is pushed all the way down.
  6. Without removing the needle from the bottle gently swirl the bottle until the solution is clear.
  7. Once clear, slowly pull back on the plunger of the syringe to draw all the solution (about 1 mL) into the syringe.
  8. Remove any air bubbles by tapping the syringe with your finger with the needle pointed upwards. Push the plunger slightly to release any air that may have collected at the top of the syringe.

Giving a glucagon injection

  • Glucagon is given just like an injection of insulin and can be given in the same areas of the body as insulin.
  • Follow these steps to give the injection:
      1. Choose a clean site for the shot on the buttock, upper arm, or thigh. If you have an alcohol swab, use it to clean the skin where you will give the shot.
      2. Hold the syringe like a pencil close to the site, keeping your fingers off the plunger.
      3. Quickly push the needle all the way into the site.
      4. Push the plunger of the syringe all the way in so that the medicine goes into the tissue. Give the amount of glucagon that the person's doctor has recommended. Remove the needle from the skin slowly and at the same angle that you inserted it. Press the alcohol swab, if you used one, against the injection site.
      5. Do not recap the needle. Discard it safely into a sharps container or back into the kit.
      6. Turn the person's head to the side, to prevent choking if he or she vomits.
      7. After you give the glucagon shot, immediately call 911 or other emergency services. If emergency services have not arrived within 15 minutes and the person is still unconscious, give another glucagon shot.
      8. Give some glucose or sucrose tablets or quick-sugar food when the person is alert and able to swallow. Also give the person some long-acting source of carbohydrate such as crackers and cheese or a meat sandwich. Stay with the person until emergency help arrives.

Any time a person with diabetes gets glucagon, he or she should talk to a doctor to try to find out what caused the low blood sugar episode. Possible causes include getting too much insulin, missing a meal, injecting insulin into a blood vessel, having an illness other than diabetes, having liver or kidney damage, exercise, or taking a new medicine.

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Adaptation Date: 7/14/2016

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Date: 7/14/2016

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC