Why is glucagon important for people with diabetes?

Intermountain Registered Dietitians
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

People who take insulin are at risk for episodes of severe hypoglycemia. During such an episode, brain cells don't get the fuel (glucose) they need. Unless their blood glucose is quickly raised, it can cause brain damage—even death.

Glucagon is one way to quickly raise blood glucose. It's a natural hormone that helps the liver release glucose into the bloodstream. It's the fastest and safest way to raise blood glucose when the person is unconscious.

Glucagon is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It is important to know about this hormone if you have type 2 diabetes and take insulin as part of your treatment. From time to time, you may experience low blood glucose, or blood sugar. Many factors can cause your blood sugar to drop, such as irregular eating or exercise habits, too much alcohol or an improper dose of medication. If your blood sugar is dangerously low and you are experiencing severe symptoms, an injection of glucagon will quickly raise your blood sugar. If you take insulin, talk to your doctor about a glucagon kit. Keep one at home and other places you frequent.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.