Low blood sugar, referred to as hypoglycemia, can be a concerning thought for individuals with diabetes. Hypoglycemia is a reality for most people with diabetes as they experience a wide variety of signs and symptoms. These may range from mild shakiness to loss of consciousness. Some individuals may not experience any symptoms at all. Hypoglycemia refers to blood glucose under 70 mg/dL and clinically significant hypoglycemia refers to blood glucose under 54 mg/dL. Most patients are able to treat this on their own with a quick carbohydrate source like juice or glucose tablets. Unfortunately, blood glucose can sometimes drop too low and the individual may get confused, disoriented, or even lose consciousness. This is why it is important for them to carry a medical alert stating they have diabetes and a glucagon emergency kit.
What is glucagon?
You can think of glucagon as the opposite of insulin. Insulin removes sugar from the blood and stores it in your liver and muscles. Glucagon is a hormone made in the pancreas that releases sugar from your liver and muscles when blood sugar levels are too low. These two hormones keep your blood sugar in check at all times. In diabetes, glucagon is not working how it should, and when blood sugar levels drop too low it’s important to have glucagon available if you are unable to eat to bring your blood sugar levels back up to normal.
Many people feel intimidated by the current glucagon emergency kits because they require 9 different steps from insertion and injecting a syringe with liquid into a vial of glucagon powder before injection into the thrashing and possibly unconscious individual. In a state of emergency, it is stressful and overwhelming for the caregiver to know how to properly use and assemble the kit. Many drug companies have been working to make easier-to-use glucagon kits for these situations.
Gvoke: The Ready-to-Use Glucagon Emergency Kit.
Recently the FDA has approved new ready-to-use glucagon called Gvoke. Gvoke contains liquid glucagon in a syringe that is ready to inject. It is stable at room temperature and does not require any mixing prior to injection. This glucagon pen requires two steps:
- Remove the cap
- Press the pen against the skin (preferably the arm or leg is possible)
Such a tool eliminates all steps prior to injection. Gvoke may reduce errors and time it takes to set up other glucagon kits. A study presented by the American Diabetes Association showed that 100% of individuals treated with Gvoke recovered within 30 minutes and had acceptable side effects, no different from the traditional glucagon emergency kits. Gvoke is available in two doses: a smaller dose made for children and a larger dose made for adults. These new glucagon emergency kits don’t have to be intimidating! If you are interested in learning more about Gvoke or any other glucagon preparations available on the market, please contact Grunberger Diabetes Institute to schedule an appointment.