The GlucaGen hypo kit

Kate Bristow, a diabetes nurse educator, explains how to use a GlucaGen hypo kit and what to be aware of.

Hypoglycaemia or low blood glucose can be a diabetes emergency. Let’s talk more about how to manage this and when to use the GlucaGen kit.

Recognise a hypoglycaemic episode

The first thing that is important is to recognise a hypoglycaemic episode.

Early signs include:

  • Sweating
  • A feeling of tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Tingling around the lips
  • Shaking
  • A rapid heartbeat – palpitations
  • Irritability, anxious feelings
  • Pallor

Symptoms of an untreated low can result in:

  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion and difficulty in concentration
  • Slurred speech, unusual behaviour, and clumsiness (like being drunk)
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizures
  • Collapsing or passing out

How to respond to a low


Give 15g oral quick-acting CHO

e.g. Super C or Coke

Give 15g oral quick-acting CHO

e.g. Super C or Coke

Get someone to help if necessary

This is when if you have a GlucaGen hypo kit, it is time to use it as per below instructions
Wait 15 mins and check blood glucose levels Check blood glucose in 15 minutes and assess responsiveness Call for medical attention if no improvement in blood glucose or readings
If blood glucose has improved resume normal regime
If still low – give a further 15g CHO
If blood glucose has improved resume normal regime
If still low – give a further 15g CHO

What is GlucaGen?

Your GlucaGen hypo kit contains an injection of GlucaGen, a generic drug called glucagon. Glucagon works by triggering the liver to release some of the sugar that it has stored to help increase blood glucose levels.

It’s injected into the outer thigh but it does have to be mixed before injecting it so teach your friends and family how to use it as you may not be able to do it yourself.

The kit comes in an orange box and there are instructions inside the lid to show you how to use it.

  1. Pull out the syringe, slip off the grey needle protector on the syringe.
  2. Clip off the orange cap on the powder-filled vial and push the liquid contents through the rubber stopper into the powder in the second vial. Do not use anything except the pre-filled syringe to reconstitute the powder in the vial.
  3. Keeping the needle inside the vial, turn it the other way over and draw back all the contents of the second vial into the syringe. Make sure you have mixed the contents well before you do this by gently shaking it. You should end up with a clear solution. Be careful not to pull back air into the syringe.
  4. Take the syringe and needle out of the vial and inject into the outer upper thigh. Gently pinch the skin at the injection site and with the other hand insert the needle into the skin and push the plunger downwards until the syringe is empty.
  5. Your doctor should have told you exactly how much to inject. A child may not need as much as an adult so have clear instructions with your kit. The dose is calculated on weight of a child. Generally, a child under 6 years/below 25kg would be given 0,5mg. Over 6 years to adult would be given 1mg/1ml.
  6. After administering the injection, turn the person on their side as a precaution against vomiting and choking.
  8. Be aware that even after using a GlucaGen injection a second hypoglycaemic is possible.

General rules

  • It’s good idea to have two GlucaGen kits prescribed; one for home and another for the office or school.
  • Teach family and close friends how to use the kit in case of emergency.
  • It doesn’t have to be stored in the fridge by do try to keep it in a cool place, easily accesible.
  • In the case of a severe hypoglycaemic event, GlucaGen should be used quickly and medical help should be summoned as soon as possible.
  • Once concious and able to swallow have something sweet by mouth too.
  • Advise your healthcare team every time you have to use the kit. Your diabetes medication may need to be adjusted to prevent hypos.

When not to use GlucaGen

  • In rare cases where there may be other health conditions or rare tumours, GlucaGen is contraindicated. Please check this with your doctor.
  • Severe allergic reactions include rash, difficulty in breathing or low blood pressure. If this happens do not use GlucaGen.

Common side effects

  • Reactions at the injection site, generally localised and will resolve
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Headache and dizziness
  • A feeling of drowsiness
  • Pallor
  • Diarrhoea
  • Low energy levels
  • Low blood pressure

Side effects generally resolve when blood glucose normalises and the effect of the injection wears off.

Final thought

Prevention is better than cure and although it’s essential to have GlucaGen as part of your diabetes emergency kit, we would prefer that if it gets to expiry date that it shouldn’t be used.

If you are having regular hypoglycaemic events, please talk to your healthcare team about adjusting your insulin doses.

When your blood sugar has normalised, resume your normal diabetes regimen with guidance from your diabetes team.

Sister Kate Bristow is a qualified nursing sister and certified diabetes educator.


Sister Kate Bristow is a qualified nursing sister and certified diabetes educator. She currently runs a Centre for Diabetes from rooms in Pietermaritzburg, providing the network support required for the patients who are members on the diabetes management programme. She also helps patients who are not affiliated to a diabetes management programme on a private individual consultation basis, providing on-going assistance and education to assist them with their self-management of their diabetes.

Image supplied.