Using glucagon for severe low blood sugar

When low blood sugar is not treated quickly it can become severely low. When this happens, you are not able to eat or drink quick-acting carbohydrate or help yourself. You could become unconscious (pass out) or have a seizure (rhythmic muscle twitching).

If this happens, you will need a shot of a medicine called glucagon. Glucagon works by telling your liver to release sugar into your bloodstream. This will help bring your blood sugar back up.

It is important to have glucagon with you and know where it is at all times. Your relatives, teachers, coaches, and childcare providers need to know how and when to give it.

Glucagon comes in a kit with a syringe that holds water and a small bottle of glucagon powder. It is not stable in liquid form, so it must be mixed just before giving it.

Glucagon kit, photoGlucagon storage

  • Keep glucagon at room temperature between 59º and 86º F.
  • Do not let it get hot.
  • Do not let it freeze.
  • Do not keep it in your car.
  • Find the expiration date on the back of the kit. Get a refill at your pharmacy about 1 month before it expires.

How to give glucagon

  1. Pop the lid off the top of the bottle with your thumb.
  2. Take the cover off the needle on the syringe. Do not remove the plastic clip from the syringe, or the push-rod could come out and the water will come out.
  3. Push the needle through the rubber stopper on the bottle and inject all of the water into the bottle of glucagon powder.
  4. Remove the syringe from the bottle and swirl the bottle until the liquid inside is clear and looks like water.
  5. Push the needle through the rubber stopper and slowly draw out the liquid.
    • Infants and children less than 20 pounds get 1/4 the liquid. There is not a 1/4 mark on the syringe. Fill it halfway between empty and the 0.5 mg mark. This would equal 0.25 mg (1/4 of the liquid).
    • Children weighing 21 to 44 pounds get 1/2 of the liquid. There is a mark on the syringe for 0.5 mg (1/2 of the liquid).
    • Children weighing over 44 pounds get all of the liquid. There is a mark on the syringe for 1.0 mg (all of the liquid).
  6. Inject the glucagon into the thigh muscle; in the same place insulin is given.
  7. Turn the child on his or her side.
  8. Call 911 right after giving glucagon.
  9. After the child is awake, alert, and can swallow, give him or her quick-acting carbohydrate, such as juice. Then give the child a carbohydrate snack with protein, such as a peanut butter sandwich.
  10. Throw the used syringe and unused glucagon in a medical sharps or a puncture- proof container, such as a liquid detergent bottle or empty soda pop bottle.
    • Throw away glucagon if it is not used within 1 hour of mixing it.
    • You can buy a medical sharps container at a pharmacy.
  11. Call your diabetes doctor or nurse if your child needed glucagon.


popping the top off glucagon, photo
Step 1
inserting needle into glucagon, photo
Step 3
swirling glucagon, photo
Step 4
drawing up glucagon, photo
Step 5

Steps 1, 3, 4, and 5