Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Guidelines for giving glucagon

These guidelines are for relatives, friends, and colleagues of a person with diabetes, who may have to recognise and treat severe hypoglycaemia (also called a hypo, or low blood sugar).

The person with diabetes gets glucagon through a doctor's prescription. They should check the expiry date every month, and replace it if it has expired. It is usually stored in the fridge, so everyone knows where it is.

What is glucagon?

glucagonGlucagon is a hormone that raises blood sugar (glucose) levels by making the liver release its store of glucose. It is not glucose. You give it by injection to help a person recover from very low blood sugar. In New Zealand it is available as GlucaGen HypoKit.

Glucagon should be injected when someone has very low blood sugar (severe hypoglycaemia), or when they cannot swallow, respond when you speak to them, or squeeze your hand when asked.

What to do if someone has very low blood sugar

It takes around 10 to 15 minutes for the glucagon to work. If the person is still not responding, give them another injection.

How to give an injection with the GlucaGen HypoKit


  HealthInfo recommends the following videos

Written by Christchurch Diabetes Centre. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Diabetes Services, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed July 2019.


Page reference: 178899

Review key: HIDIA-21832