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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Guidelines for giving glucagon

Ngā aratakinga mō te whāngai glucagon

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

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's usually stored in the fridge, so everyone knows where it is.


glucagonGlucagon is a hormone that raises blood glucose (sugar) 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 glucose. In New Zealand it's available as GlucaGen HypoKit.

Glucagon should be injected when someone has very low blood glucose (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 glucose

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

How to give an injection with the GlucaGen HypoKit


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Written by Christchurch Diabetes Centre. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2022.


Page reference: 178899

Review key: HIDIA-21832