Basically a peptide hormone, glucagon is made in the pancreas by the alpha cells. The main function of this form of peptide is to increase glucose concentration in our blood stream. Precisely speaking, the effect of glucagon is just the opposite of that of insulin, which works to bring down the level of glucose in the blood stream.
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When the level of glucose in our blood stream drops to alarming levels, the pancreas secretes glucagon. In fact, glucagon helps the liver to transform the glycogen stored in the body into glucose, which is subsequently carried to the blood stream. On the other hand, elevated levels of blood glucose in the blood stream stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, which helps the insulin-dependent tissues to absorb excess glucose and use it. In this way, both glucagon and insulin form two opposing components of a response system that helps the body to maintain the levels of blood glucose stable. Glucagon works to augment the expenditure of energy, especially elevating it when our body endures stress. Glucagon is a member of a family of several related hormones.
The blood sugar level of people enduring specific types of diabetes may drop unexpectedly leading to an emergency situation. Such type of drop in the blood sugar level may often be in response to the presence of excessive insulin in the patient's blood stream. Alternatively, it may also be a result of various other health problems, for instance hypoglycemia. In such cases, their body will try to recompense by discharging glucagon made in the pancreas and this will trigger the process to restore a somewhat healthy glucose level in their blood stream.
On its own, glucagon cannot help to raise the levels of blood sugar. Rather that working to increase the blood sugar level itself, pancreas releases this hormone, which stimulates the liver to take on the job. On its part, the liver reacts by discharging carbohydrates and fats, which convert into the much needed glucose to support the metabolic process as well as to restore the blood sugar to an acceptable level.
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Despite the fact that our body makes glucagon, it is worth mentioning here that several health conditions can hinder this process. In fact, people with diabetes who should essentially use insulin for checking the levels of their blood sugar may sometimes endure situations wherein administration of insulin results in an abysmal drop in the blood sugar levels, making it unsafe for them. In such situations, the patients' body may be incapable of secreting sufficient amounts of glucagon to deal with the emergency suitably and right on time. However, with the introduction of glucagon injections it has become possible to get this hormone introduced into the system very fast and, in this way, maintain an acceptable blood sugar balance. This will also help to prevent the patient from enduring any further complications or stress.
However, all diabetic patients do not need to be administered glucagon injections. In most cases, it may be possible to keep the levels of blood sugar under control by taking healthy diet and exercising regularly. These may help most diabetics to refrain from taking insulin and undergoing other treatment processes. Hence, eating appropriately and exercising will help them greatly in doing away with the need to take medicines or any other assistance to enhance the normal production of glucagon by the pancreas. On the other hand, people suffering from various types of diabetes will be able to stimulate the production and release sufficient amounts of this vital hormone in the pancreas with healthy diet and workouts, including walking briskly. It can easily be done by drinking some orange juice or eating a cookie.
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Some people suffer from hypoglycemia owing to their thyroid problems. Such people will also find using glucagon injections beneficial. Generally, glucagon injections are meant for very severe cases, where the blood sugar levels of diabetics fall unexpectedly and drastically, making it unsafe for patients. Nevertheless, physicians are able to assess the condition of a patient and decide whether he is in need of the injection. Glucagon injections are always administered by a competent healthcare provider keeping in view the patient's best interests.
Similar to insulin injections, even glucagon injections are administered just below the skin of the patients. However, it may also be administered in the muscles and the veins. This hormone is available in powder as well as liquid forms that should be blended just prior to administering the required dose of glucagon. The package of the medicine carries instructions regarding how the liquid and powder should be mixed and the injection needs to be administered. It is important to administer glucagon injection immediately when it is found that the diabetic patient has become unconscious due to a sudden drop in his blood sugar level. Once the injection has been administered, it is important to turn the patient on one side so that he does not choke in case of vomiting. After the injection has been administered it is important to get in touch with the physician immediately.
At the same time, it is essential for at least one member of the diabetic's household to be familiar with the symptoms related to low blood sugar levels and also the technique of administering a glucagon injection.
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Precisely speaking, this hormone is a hyperglycemic agent, which activates hepatic glycogen that is discharged into the blood stream in the form of glucose. Glucagon assists in sustaining an acceptable glucose level in the blood stream by attaching to certain hepatocyte receptors, thereby stimulating the liver to secrete glucose that is stored as glycogen. When the stock of glycogen in the liver is depleted, glycogen promotes the liver to synthesize more glucose through gluconeogenesis. Subsequently, it releases more glucose into the blood stream to raise the level of blood sugar of a diabetic. As a result of these two mechanisms, the liver releases glucose into the blood stream, thereby putting off the risks of developing hypoglycemia.
Glucagon works in tandem with hormone insulin to regulate the levels of blood sugar and ensure that they remain within certain fixed levels. This peptide hormone is released to avoid the glucose levels in our blood stream from dropping abysmally. On the other hand, our pancreas also releases insulin, which works to prevent the blood sugar levels from spiking abnormally.
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Several aspects like hypoglycemia or low blood glucose, adrenaline (this is yet another vital hormone that combats low glucose levels in the blood stream) and meals rich in protein content work to stimulate glucagon release. On the other hand, elevated levels of glucose in the blood stream and ingestion of carbohydrates through meals work to prevent the release of glucagon. The cells in our pancreas actually identify the level of glucose in the blood stream and accordingly release or prevent the release of glucagon.
Glucagon is vital when our body fails to response to hunger of requirement for food. It is highly beneficial for the body in the longer term. For instance, glucagon works to stimulate the utilization of fats stored in the body to generate energy, so that the limited glucose supply can be preserved.
Glucagonomas are some uncommon tumours in the pancreas and they possess the aptitude to secrete elevated amounts of glucagon. When this happens, it often results in weight loss, diabetes mellitus, a typical skin rash and even venous thrombosis.
Sometimes, babies too suffer exceptional incidences of glucagon secretion deficiency. As a result of this, the level of glucose is extremely low in their blood stream. Such incidences can only be treated by administering glucagon.
This particular peptide can be administered in the form of an injection with a view to reinstate the insulin levels lowered due to insulin. In fact, glucagon can also be administered to patients who have become unconscious due to low blood sugar levels. Glucagon works by augmenting the release of glucose from glycogen stores overpowering insulin's ability to suppress it. However, glucagon has a very limited effect and, hence, it is important that people who have recuperated enough should consume meals high in carbohydrate content to avoid recurrence of the low blood glucose problem. However, they should eat carbohydrate meals when it is safe for them to do so.