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October 23, 1999


Question from Berkeley, California, USA:

What are the specific protocols for treating severe low blood sugar episodes using a glucagon emergency kit when my teenager is in the back country far away from medical help? Is there a time frame after black-out or convulsions begin within which glucagon must be given? Will it be fatal if glucagon is not administered? What further treatment or follow-up is required after glucagon is administered?


From: DTeam Staff

Meet with your diabetes nurse or physician to learn about the treatment of low blood sugar, and specific instructions in your teen’s case. In general, glucagon is used in the case of unconsciousness or seizure (convulsion) due to low blood sugar. In these situations it is dangerous to put food or drink in the mouth due to the risk of choking. Instead use the glucagon kit. Turn the person on their side to decrease the risk of choking/breathing problems.

After a severe hypoglycemic episode, the person will likely feel tired, have a headache and stomach ache/nausea. It often takes a few hours to feel better. There may be temporary signs such as visual changes, numbness, or difficulty moving part of the body. In almost all cases people are fine after a severe low.

If possible, prevent severe lows by using the results of frequent blood glucose monitoring to recognize patterns, changing food and insulin regimens as needed. Be on the alert for lows the night after heavy exercise.