Nasal glucagon: A better way to treat diabetes emergencies

Glucagon is the Epi Pen for diabetes: used in an emergency, it can save a life. And there's a new way to deliver it through the nose that's going to make things a lot easier.

Bob Weishar

November 15, 2019

4 min read

Since I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I’ve always had a small, red container lying around my house called “glucagon”. Used in an emergency if I have a really low blood sugar, it could save my life. Think of Glucagon as the EpiPen for diabetes.

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What a glucagon kit looks like

The problem? Every friend I’ve ever showed this to is intimidated. Not only because the obvious — it has a really big needle — but also because using it is pretty complicated. Add in the stress of a real emergency and I can’t say I blame them.

Friends when I show them my glucagon kit

They’re not alone. Every day we ask parents, teachers, grandparents, and coaches to know how to use glucagon in an emergency for a child with type 1 diabetes. And every day we just hope they‘re never put to the test.

Luckily, a new product is now out that makes things a lot easier. It has no needle and it’s a whole lot easier to use.

My goal in sharing this is to teach you a little about glucagon and a new product called Baqsimi that’s now available that’s going to simplify diabetes emergencies. I have no affiliation with Baqsimi, but I do think it can make things a whole lot safer for kids and people living with diabetes.

How We Got Here

For those of you with a well-functioning pancreas, the body automatically balances blood sugar. It uses insulin to lower glucose and glucagon (which releases sugar) to raise blood sugar.

Job of the pancreas

But if you’re like me or the millions of people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t do either of these things,  leaving me to manually manage my blood sugar. This means that I deliver insulin for a high glucose and I eat sugar whenever I have a low glucose.

Managing Low Blood Sugars

Imagine being chased by a bear. That's what having a low glucose feels like.

I get a low blood sugar when I take too much insulin, don’t eat enough food, or exercise a lot. For 99.9% of my low blood sugars, drinking some juice is all I need. When I feel low, the sugar from the juice raises my blood sugar and I start feeling like myself again.

But if I ever get really low, I could pass out, making drinking a juice box suddenly impossible. This is where I’d need a friend to inject me with glucagon. Am I confident they’d be able to do it?

Delivering Glucagon

Up until now, the only way to deliver emergency glucagon was through an injection. But recently, a new product was launched that makes things easier.

It looks weird but it’s better than a big scary needle!

It’s called “Baqsimi” — and rather than injecting it, you just squeeze it into the nose and it starts working to raise blood sugar. It is passively absorbed in the nose so doesn’t need to be inhaled (so it can be administered to someone who is unconscious).

Why Nasal Glucagon is a Game-Changer

This new glucagon is easy to learn and easier to deliver. Even my most scared friends could use this in an emergency.

baby imitate GIF
How's that for confidence?

More importantly, if you’re a parent to one of the 200K kids with type 1 diabetes in the US, you can have more confidence your child gets the support they need in an emergency.

If you’re interested in getting it, here’s how.

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