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Glucagon is a hormone produced by the pancreas that causes the liver to release its stored sugar into the bloodstream. Glucagon is also available as a prescription medicine that is given as a shot or a nasal spray. It works in the same way as the natural hormone.

People with diabetes or hypoglycemia sometimes develop very low blood sugar levels. If a person has a very low blood sugar level and is unconscious, or if the person cannot or will not drink or eat something containing sugar, they need glucagon.

Instructions for how to give glucagon should be kept with the medicine. Check the expiration date often, as expired glucagon won't work as well. It should be given by someone who knows how to give it correctly. A person who is having a low blood sugar emergency can safely have more than one dose of glucagon. Make sure the person's blood sugar is checked after giving glucagon. If the person becomes more alert, carefully give a quick-sugar food or liquid.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.