Glucagon emergency kit helps diabetics in an emergency

Glucagon emergency kit helps diabetics in an emergency

Headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating – what looks like the harbingers of a cold can often be a severe indication of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in people with diabetes . If a “hypo” is not recognized and treated in good time by the person concerned, it can lead to severe hypoglycaemia with loss of consciousness or even seizures. The patient is then absolutely dependent on outside help.

People with diabetes should have a glucagon emergency kit.

People with type 1 diabetes who are insulin dependent are at most significant risk of developing severe hypoglycaemia. But people with type 2 diabetes are also at risk – regardless of whether they are being treated with insulin or blood sugar-lowering tablets. Every person with diabetes who is prone to severe hypoglycaemia should, therefore, be informed about what to do in an emergency and have at least one glucagon emergency kit.

“To be well prepared for severe hypoglycaemia, every insulin-dependent diabetic should have at least one glucagon emergency set,” explains Prof. Dr. Thomas Haak from the Mergentheim Diabetes Center. “It is even more advisable to store several emergency kits in a cool place, for example, at home, at work or in kindergarten or school – then the patient is fully prepared.”


What is glucagon, and how is it administered?

Glucagon is a hormone that, when blood sugar is extremely low, ensures that the body releases sugar reserves and causes the blood sugar level to rise again within a short period. In the case of severe hypoglycaemia, it is injected so that the blood sugar quickly rises again. Relatives, work colleagues and acquaintances can administer the necessary glucagon injection themselves if the worst comes to the worst.

Necessary:  You must always know where the emergency kit is kept and should be trained to use it. The quick and correct action is possible in an emergency.

Many patients are often insufficiently prepared for severe hypoglycaemia.

Injecting too much insulin, skipping meals, exercising unusually much or drinking excessive alcohol – these are all reasons that can lead to low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) in people with diabetes. It is still the most common “side effect” of diabetes therapy with insulin or blood sugar-lowering tablets. It is characterized by the blood sugar level falling below the average value.

But “hypo” is not the same as “hypo”. Depending on which symptoms become noticeable, a distinction is made between mild and severe hypoglycaemia. Not all “hypo warning signs” have to appear simultaneously. They can vary significantly from person to person and are often perceived differently. In the case of frequent hypoglycaemia, the body adapts to low blood sugar values, and timely perception can sometimes become worse.


What to do with mild and severe hypoglycaemia?

The following applies: In the case of a slight hypoglycaemia with symptoms such as sweating, racing pulses or ravenous hunger, the patient can help himself with a few small tablets of glucose or a glass of a sweetened drink (no “light products”) are usually sufficient to raise the blood sugar level again. Although slight hypoglycaemia is unpleasant, it is harmless.

It becomes critical when the first signs of low blood sugar are not noticed or ignored and the blood sugar falls below 50 mg/dl or 2.8 mmol/l. Then there is a severe lack of sugar in the brain, which can lead to symptoms of paralysis, cramps or even unconsciousness – and in the worst case, is even life-threatening. In this phase, the person with diabetes depends on outside help, for example, in the form of a glucagon injection.

Use the glucagon emergency set correctly in an emergency.

The emergency kit should be stored in a cool place at +2ºC to +8ºC. Taking it with you on hikes, bike tours, or vacations is advisable. In an emergency, the glucagon powder is dissolved in water and injected either under the skin or into the muscle.

Regardless of whether it is relatives, friends, work colleagues or teachers – everyone near a person with diabetes should always know where they keep their emergency kit, when it is needed and how to use it. The prerequisite is that the doctor or the diabetes team provide comprehensive information and training for those affected in advance: They explain the causes and symptoms of hypoglycaemia, teach how to use the emergency kit correctly and provide the relevant information material. “Because only well-informed and trained people can act quickly and correctly in an emergency,” says Haak.

Once the patient regains consciousness, they should eat “fast energy” in dextrose and “slower energy” in bread.

“If the patient still does not regain consciousness, an emergency doctor must be called immediately,” explains Haak. “This also applies if the situation is unclear or you are unsure.” 



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