How To Administer a Glucagon Injection

If you, a friend, or a family member have diabetes, it is important to know how to administer a glucagon injection.  Glucagon is a hormone produced in the pancreas, which causes the liver to release its glycogen stores that can quickly be converted by the body into glucose.  The effect of glucagon is the opposite of insulin, raising the blood sugar.

When a diabetic is unresponsive, the most likely reason is an extremely low blood glucose level.  At this point, someone who knows how to administer a glucagon injection can be the difference between life and death for the diabetic.  The following is necessary information about the packaging of the glucagon, the way to get it ready, and how to give the injection.

Locate the diabetic's glucagon kit.  Typically there is a vial of powder labeled "glucagon" along with a syringe full of liquid.  The liquid must be added to the vial of powder and the two mixed until the power is completely dissolved in the liquid.  This is done by gently shaking the vial.  Once this is complete the solution must be drawn up into the syringe again.  By holding the vial up, being careful to keep the needle in the liquid, the solution can be drawn back into the syringe with very little air.  After withdrawing the needle, again hold the needle up and taping the syringe, push the plunger just a bit and remove any air in the syringe.

Find a muscular area that is uncovered.  The upper arm or thighs are good spots.  Use one of the alcohol swabs to clean the skin over the area you have chosen.  Carefully but firmly plunge the needle into the skin and underlying muscle.  At this point draw back on the syringe while staring at the point where the needle and syringe hub meet.  It is important that no blood come back into the syringe.  If you do see blood, you probably have the needle in a blood vessel.  Withdrawn the needle a short distance and pull back the plunger again.  If no blood is seen this time you can safely depress the plunger giving the syringe full of glucagon and then withdraw the needle.  The glucagon should be given intramuscularly, not into a vein or artery.

The diabetic should become responsive within 15 minutes of the dose being given.  If this is not happening, give a second dose of 1 mg just as you gave the first dose.  Should the diabetic become responsive make sure you have some orange juice or sugar tablets on hand that can be taken.  The glucagon raises the blood sugar for a few minutes but more sugar will be needed.  If the diabetic is not responding to the second glucagon injection, call 911.


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