How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Glucagon nasal powder belongs to the class of medications called hyperglycemic agents. It is used to treat severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when someone with insulin-treated diabetes is unable to swallow sugar, such as when they are unconscious. Symptoms of severely low blood sugar include disorientation, unconsciousness, and seizures.

This medication increases blood sugar by releasing stored glucose (sugar) from the liver into the blood. It usually works within 10 to 15 minutes. If a person does not respond to this medication within this time, get immediate medical attention.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each single-use, nasal dosing device contains 3 mg of glucagon. Nonmedicinal ingredients: betadex and dodecylphosphocholine (DPC).

How should I use this medication?

The recommended dose of glucagon nasal is 3 mg (one actuation of the device), into one nostril.

This medication is intended to be used in an emergency. Your doctor or pharmacist should instruct you on proper use of the medication. Also refer to the information pamphlet provided with the medication.

The dose is administered by inserting the tip of the device into one nostril, then pressing the plunger on the device in until the green line is no longer showing. The dose is absorbed through the skin in the nostril. It should only be used in the nose.

After administering the dose, call for emergency medical help.

Once the person responds to the medication, and as soon as they can safely swallow, they should be encouraged to consume a fast-acting sugar such as candy, orange juice, or regular pop to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low again. After this they should eat a longer-acting source of sugar such as crackers and cheese, peanut butter, or a sandwich with meat.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Keep this medication in its shrink-wrapped packaging until needed. Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to glucagon or any ingredients of the medication
  • have a pheochromocytoma (a tumour on the adrenal glands)
  • have an insulinoma (a tumour in the pancreas that produces insulin)

Do not give this medication to children less than 4 years of age.

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • abdominal pain
  • changed sense of smell
  • changed sense of taste
  • cough
  • dizziness
  • ear, face, or neck pain
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea
  • nasal irritation (e.g., sneezing, runny, or stuffy nose, nose bleed)
  • sleepiness
  • sore throat
  • vomiting
  • watery, red. or itchy eyes

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • fast, pounding heartbeat
  • increased blood pressure

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives; itchy skin; difficulty breathing or swallowing; swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, or throat)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Alcohol: Alcohol ingestion (acute or chronic) can reduce the effectiveness of this medication.

Heart conditions: Glucagon can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure or heart rate. If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Knowledge of use: This medication is usually given by family members, friends, or coworkers. Make sure that these people are familiar with when and how to use this medication and where you store it.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks, and only if sugar cannot be given.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if glucagon passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of this medication have not been established for children under the age of 4 years.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

For a full list of interactions, use the Drug Interaction Checker available on the website.

If you are taking other medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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