|Glucagon is a 29 amino acid polypeptide acting as an important hormone in carbohydrate metabolism. Glucagon is used to raise very low blood sugar. Glucagon is also used in diagnostic testing of the stomach and other digestive organs. It is an emergency medicine used to treat severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in patients with diabetes who have passed out or cannot take some form of sugar by mouth. Glucagon is synthesized and secreted from alpha cells of pancreatic islets.
Glucagon stimulates the liver to release glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. Glucagon is a hyperglycaemic agent that mobilizes hepatic glycogen which is released into the blood as glucose. Glucagon helps maintain the level of glucose in the blood by binding to specific receptors on hepatocytes causing the liver to release glucose which is stored in the form of glycogen. As these stores become depleted, glucagon then encourages the liver to synthesize additional glucose by gluconeogenesis. This glucose is released into the bloodstream. Both of these mechanisms lead to glucose release by the liver preventing the development of hypoglycemia. Glucagon stimulates the release of catecholamines. In the presence of phaeocromocytoma, glucagon can cause the tumour to release large amounts of catecholamines which will cause an acute hypertensive reaction.
Glucagon is a hormone that raises the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. The pancreas produces glucagon and releases it when the body needs more sugar in the blood for delivery to the cells. Glucagon raises the blood sugar by making the liver release stored glucose. In cases of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when the person is unconscious or unable to cooperate by eating or drinking something, glucagon should be injected to raise the blood sugar closer to normal levels. When someone with diabetes has a very low blood glucose level, a glucagon shot (injection) can help raise the blood glucose quickly. Glucagon is also used during x-ray tests of the stomach and bowels to improve test results by relaxing the muscles of the stomach and bowels. This also makes the testing more comfortable for the patient.
Glucagon is usually given by injection beneath the skin, in the muscle, or in the vein. It comes as a powder and liquid that will need to be mixed just before administering the dose. Instructions for mixing and giving the injection are in the package. Glucagon should be administered as soon as possible after discovering that the patient is unconscious from low blood sugar. After the injection, the patient should be turned onto the side to prevent choking if they vomit. Once the glucagon has been given, contact your doctor. It is very important that all patients have a household member who knows the symptoms of low blood sugar and how to administer glucagon.