What is an EpiPen?
An EpiPen is an emergency device that delivers the medication epinephrine quickly to anyone suffering from anaphylaxis. An allergic reaction can lead to severe, potentially fatal consequences.
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Anaphylaxis is when your body reacts to something it’s allergic to. This could be food, or bee venom. Although it may seem mild at first, anaphylaxis can quickly escalate into a serious medical emergency due to its impact on blood pressure and breathing.
The EpiPen is an automatic-injector that injects a prescribed amount of medication into the muscle. You can also use auto-injectors with other medications. You can carry the auto-injector with you in your pocket or bag because the needle is inside the device.
The severe allergic reaction symptoms can be stopped by injecting epinephrine directly into the muscle. After using an EpiPen, anaphylaxis patients should still call 911 or the local emergency services.
Anaphylaxis symptoms can be severe and quickly manifest. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. An anaphylaxis is a serious condition. You can then dial 911 or contact your local emergency services.
You should be aware of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Swelling of the lips, throat, and face
- Wheezing and hoarseness
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Rapid heart rate
- Skin that is pale or clammy
- Low blood pressure
- Feelings of doom
- Collapsing or fainting
You may also experience the following symptoms:
- Itching and hives
- Abdominal pain
- nausea or vomiting
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How to use an EpiPen for yourself
According to the manufacturer, there are three steps that you need to follow to use an EpiPen:
- Take responsibility
- Get emergency medical help
The EpiPen should be removed from the clear case. Slide the EpiPen out of its clear carrier by flipping open the yellow cap.
The orange tip should be pointed down as you hold the device in your fist. This can be remembered by using the expression “Blue to your sky, orange to your thighs”
The blue safety release should be removed. Use your opposite hand to pull the device straight up.
Place the orange tip on your thigh. Next, place the orange tip on your thigh.
Move the pen forward about 6 inches, and then firmly press it against your thigh. The needle is located at the orange tip. It should click once the injection has begun.
For 3 seconds, hold the needle in place. Keep the needle in place and count slowly for three seconds.+
The EpiPen should be removed from your thigh. The orange tip should be removed from the EpiPen. If it does not, don’t try to reuse it.
Massage the injection site. For 10 seconds, rub the injection site.
Get emergency medical help
You can call 911 or your local emergency service to get help or arrange for someone to take you to the nearest hospital. It is not recommended to drive yourself as symptoms can recur.
If you are using an EpiPen-type epinephrine autoinjector, please read the manufacturer’s instructions for administration and consult a doctor if you have any questions.
If the first dose did not work, the patient may require a second dose.
When is an EpiPen to be used?
An EpiPen should be used if you suspect you or someone else is suffering from severe allergic reactions. The device should be used if you experience anaphylaxis symptoms.
Only those who have been prescribed it by their doctor can use it.
Epinephrine should not be used in lieu of medical treatment. However, you should still seek medical attention immediately.
Antihistamine vs. EpiPen
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- To manage allergies, you can use antihistamine medication such as diphenhydramine or loratadine.
- These medications may be used to relieve mild allergies such as itching, watery eyes or sneezing.
- Anaphylaxis cannot be treated by antihistamines alone. They don’t work as fast as epinephrine and can’t treat anaphylaxis effectively by opening your airway or raising your blood pressure.