All About Nasal Glucagon
Glucagon is a hormone produced by alpha cells in the pancreas. Though they work in partnership, glucagon has the opposite effect of insulin. While insulin lowers blood glucose, glucagon raises blood glucose.
Normally, glucagon keeps your blood sugar from dropping too low by converting stored glycogen in the liver to glucose, which is then released back into the blood. In people with diabetes, this function is disrupted and can result in recurrent hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, especially severe hypoglycemia, can result in cognitive impairment and even death.
What is nasal glucagon? Why do I need it?
Nasal glucagon is a non-injectable emergency treatment for severe hypoglycemia (blood sugar <3.0 mmol/L54 mg/dL). Baqsimi is the first and only product on the market with this capability. It comes inside a shrink-wrapped yellow tube. It’s the only dry nasal spray that’s available. Prior to Baqsimi’s approval, injectable glucagon was the primary method to treat severe low blood sugar.
People with type 2 diabetes, especially those who use insulin, need nasal glucagon in the event of an emergency. Hypoglycemia is a serious issue that all people with type 2 should be aware of and know how to handle. Nasal glucagon is easy to use, as displayed in the video at the bottom of this page.
When would I use it?
Administer nasal glucagon to a person experiencing in a severe low blood sugar, when the person is unable to eat or drink and needs help from someone else.
Nasal glucagon should still be given if the person is passed out. It does not need to be inhaled in order for it to work and can be given even if one is experiencing congestion or has taken a decongestant.
Low blood sugars can be mild, moderate, or severe and an emergency can occur anytime. Knowing the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia are the first critical steps to identifying, preventing and treating an emergency. Nasal glucagon should also be included in your severe hypoglycemia disaster plan. For more information on how to plan for possible emergencies, please contact your doctor.
How fast does nasal glucagon work?
It works within 30 minutes of dosing.
Where is it available?
Baqsimi is available in pharmacies in the U.S. and Canada. Please contact your doctor for a prescription. You can also use a savings card to get Baqsimi at a discount by the product’s patient support team.
Are there any side effects?
Nasal glucagon has a list of noted side effects, however, these are not all of the possible ones. Please contact your doctor for more information. Common side effects include:
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Nose discomfort
- Redness in your eyes
- Itchy nose, throat and eyes
- Watery eyes
Rare, serious side effects include:
- High blood pressure in people with certain tumors in their adrenal glands.
- Low blood sugar in people with tumors in their pancreas.
- Serious allergic reactions such as rash, difficulty breathing and low blood pressure. Please get medical help right away if you experience these effects.
What else should I know about nasal glucagon?
- Each Baqsimi device contains one dose of glucagon nasal powder and cannot be reused.
- After administering nasal glucagon, call for medical help right away and throw away the used device and tube. If the person is unconscious, turn them on their side. Once they’re conscious, encourage them to eat or drink fast-acting sugars such as juice, fruit snacks, or crackers.
- Do not remove the shrink wrap or open the tube until you’re ready to use it. Opening it early use could expose it to moisture and cause it to not work properly.
- Baqsimi will work if you have a cold or are taking cold medicine.
- Replace your Baqsimi device before the expiration date printed on the tube or carton.
Watch how nasal glucagon works:
More about Nasal Glucagon:
This content was made possible with support from Lilly (Baqsimi), an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication.