Islets of Hope  care tips for persons with diabetes

islets of hope home buttonabout type 1 diabetes buttonabout type 2 diabetes buttondiabetes care tips from otherscomplications with diabetes buttondiabetes support groups buttondiabetes resources

Article disclaimer

Compiled by Lahle Wolfe, who is not a medical doctor but has diabetes, and is a parent of a young child with diabetes who uses an insulin pump.

Children with Diabetes
American Diabetes Assn.

Mayo Clinic

About Hypoglycemia
(low blood glucose)

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin.  This makes them vulnerable to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).

Mild hypglycemia is treated by eating or drinking a fast-acting sugar.

Untreated, blood glucose can drop rapidly so a person becomes confused and unable to swallow.  If this happens, it is necessary to inject a shot of glucagon to save the person's life.

Some people with diabetes lose their ability to recognize the symptoms of early hypoglycemia. This is why testing blood glucose often is so important.  Person who have no sensitivity to hypoglycemia may do better on an insulin pump than on shots.

Related Information

Insulin Shock - When too much insulin is given, too little food is eaten with insulin, or during exercise, blood glucose levels can drop dangerously low resulting in "insulin shock."  Untreated, a person can lose consciousness, slip into coma, or die. 

What is Insulin Shock?
What are Normal Blood Glucose Ranges?
Symptoms of Insulin Shock
The Dangers of Insulin Shock

Bath Time
Brittle Diabetes

Frequently Asked 
Questions About 
Insulin & Blood
Glucose Monitoring

How often should I check my blood glucose levels?

Any advice or tips for checking blood glucose?

What about "alternative" testing sites?

Free Printable Publications

How to Prepare & Inject Glucagon for Treatment of Severe Hypoglycemia  (Illustrated)
Prepare ahead for emergencies, about hypoglycemia, about glucagon, illustratred step-by-step instructions on how to prepare and inject glucagon, and what to do afterward.

How to Prepare & Inject Glucagon (this is a fast-reference printout of excerpts from our main publication on glucagon.

Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention & Emergency Care Form
IOH Publication HG-1-2006; 13 pages (updated 01/2006)

Reactive and Fasting Hypoglycemia
Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention & Emergency Care

Causes, Sytmes, Treatment & Prevention


diabetes care tips                    
Tips and Advice for Storing, Injecting & Teachers Others About Glucagon

Mini Site Index
Tips for Injecting Glucagon
Tips on Storing Glucagon
Tips on Teaching Others How to Inject Glucagon

Printable, Illustrated Guide to Injecting Glucagon
Additional Information and Links

Tips for Injecting Glucagon

  • Glucagon instructions call for sterilizing the injection site prior to injecting (rubbing with alcohol).  In an emergency situation, remember, the risk of dying from low blood glucose (sugar) is far greater than the risk of infection from the injection site.
  • Inject into fat when possible, just as you normally would when injecting insulin. But if you are in a panic, hurry, or uncertain where to inject, glucagon can also be safely injected into muscles like the thigh.
  • Be sure not to inject too fast.  If you see liquid leaking out of the injection site you are either injecting to quickly, or not deeply enough into fat.
  • Remember, even after giving an injection of glucagon, results are not immediate.  It can take 10-15 minutes for a person that has been unconscious from low blood glucose (blood sugar) to regain consciousness.
  • You cannot overdose someone on a glucagon shot.  In an emergency, if you cannot remember how much to give your child (under 50 lbs usually 1/2 the dose in the bottle) or are fumbling with trying to get the perfect dose, just give at least half to small children and all the glucagon to older children and adults.
  • Roll the person onto their side and do not leave them after injecting glucagon.  Glucagon can causes vomiting and the person could choke.  If you need more help shout for someone to call 911 for you.  It is best to tell a specific person, like "you in the green dress" or someone by name, to call 911, otherwise no one might respond.
  • Sometimes two injections are required.  If the first injection does not bring the person back to consciousness give a second injection in a different injection site -- and call 911.

Tips on Storing Glucagon

  • Expiration dates can be hard to read.  When you get your glucagon kit, be sure to check the expiration date.  Mark it clearly with your own label or write on the back with a permanent pen in large print the expiration date.
  • Be sure to replace expired glucagon BEFORE it expires.  At least two months before the expiration date, renew your prescription.  (Save expired glucagon kits and use them to practice of train others how to mix and inject it into a piece of fruit.)
  • Store glucagon at room temperature.
  • Do not keep glucagon in extreme humidity or temperature environments like bathrooms (with showers or baths), in open sunlight, or inside cars.
  • Glucagon is more durable than bottled insulin which can go "bad" if shaken or dropped.  Until glucagon is mixed, it can be easily transported in your briefcase, purse, or lunchbox.
  • Once you mix glucagon it must be used immediately.  If you mix it but do not use it, discard it.
  • Always have at least two glucagon kits handy.  Keep one with you at all times, one at school, home, or the office.


Tips on Teaching Others How to Inject Glucagon

  • Always carry with you glucagon injection instructions.  It could come in handy.
  • College students should train at least one friend how to inject glucagon.
  • School aged children - At least one school official that knows how to inject glucagon should be onsite at school at all times.  Ask your principal to give you the names of persons that are able to inject glucagon and make sure each of those trained knows about your child with diabetes.
  • Make sure more than one family member or friend knows how to give glucagon in an emergency.  Chances are you won't be able to inject yourself.
  • When you travel alone, be sure to tell flight attendants that you have diabetes and where you store your glucagon.  You might also consider leaving emergency contact information at hotel desks.
  • Save expired glucagon kits and use them to practice, or train school and family members how to give emergency injections.

For more information

Causes of Hypoglycemia Related to Diabetes
About Hypoglycemia
Common Causes
Side Effect of Certain Medications
Insulin Pumps & Hypoglycemia
Bathing, Hot Tubs & Saunas
Normal Blood Glucose Ranges
Normal & Target Blood Glucose Ranges for Diabetics

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia:  An Immediate Danger
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia in Diabetes

Treatment of Hypoglycemia
Treatment for Hypoglycemia
When to Inject Glucagon
Do Not Turn off Insulins Pumps to Treat Hypoglycemia

Preventing Hypoglycemia
Medications, Supplements and Hypoglycemia
Preventing Hypoglycemia During the Day
Preventing Hypoglycemia During the Night
Preventing Hypoglycemia Related to Exercise

Hypoglycemia in Nondiabetic Persons
Hypoglycemia in People Who Do Not Have Diabetes
Symptoms of Non-Diabetes Related Hypoglycemia
Reactive Hypoglycemia
Fasting Hypoglycemia
Conditions Occurring in Childhood and Infancy

Two types of hypoglycemia can occur in people who do not have diabetes: reactive (postprandial, or after meals) and fasting (postabsorptive). Reactive hypoglycemia is not usually related to any underlying disease; fasting hypoglycemia often is.

Contact Us  |  About IOH  |  Our Mission  |  Elizabeth's Story  |  About the Founder  |  Join IOH  |  How To Help  |  Advertise  |  Privacy Statement  |  Site Index  |

Page Updated 04/13/2006