EpiPens and other epinephrine auto-injectors are in high demand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of food allergies has increased between 1997 and 2011, and now it affects around one in 13 children. With the increase in food allergies, it’s important to know how to administer epinephrine to an allergic individual as epinephrine is currently the only treatment for anaphylaxis.
You should also know other facts about EpiPens like how to store them and when to inject the medication. Knowing these facts will help you make quick decisions when faced with the task of treating a life-threatening allergic reaction. Here are 5 facts you should know about an EpiPen.
You Can Administer Epinephrine Through Clothing
It is a common myth that epinephrine must be administered through bare skin. An EpiPen needle is sharp and long enough to penetrate through clothes. Epinephrine should be injected into the largest part of the outer thigh, so it would be an uncomfortable and unnecessary request to remove pants beforehand. In some cases, you may need a second dose of epinephrine administered directly into a vein. For this reason, it is vital to call emergency medical personnel after administering epinephrine. Only a trained professional should attempt to inject epinephrine into a vein.
There Are Different Doses for Different People
The appropriate dose of epinephrine is determined according to the patient’s body weight. So dosing amounts vary for infants, toddlers, youth, and adults. A physician will carefully assess each patient to determine the most appropriate dose of medication. A pediatric patient may be prescribed an Epipen Jr. Be sure to follow your anaphylaxis care plan when using an EpiPen or consult with one of our allergy experts for questions about the correct dosage.
Epinephrine Increases Your Blood Pressure
While increased blood pressure is usually a cause for concern, in the case of using an EpiPen, this is actually a good thing. It means the medication is working. Epinephrine constricts blood vessels, which naturally leads to higher blood pressure to maintain circulation. It also relaxes the muscles in the lungs to reduce wheezing and improve breathing. After using an EpiPen, a physician will further monitor your blood pressure to ensure it returns to normal.
Improper Storage Can Lead to Malfunction
Store your EpiPens in a cool dark place at room temperature. Epinephrine auto-injectors may lose potency within hours when stored in heat. Under dosage during an anaphylaxis episode can be fatal, so it is important to keep auto-injectors properly stored. Remember to carry your EpiPen with you but never leave it in your car.
Early Injection Is Important
Anaphylaxis can progress very quickly, so patients should inject epinephrine immediately at the sign of a severe reaction. Signs of anaphylaxis include:
- Shortness of breath and wheezing
- Pale or bluish skin, faintness, weak pulse, dizziness
- Tight or hoarse throat, trouble breathing or swallowing
- Significant swelling of the tongue or lips
- Hives all over the body, widespread redness
As documented in this epinephrine study, delayed administration of epinephrine in the treatment of anaphylaxis is associated with increased mortality. Be sure to keep up with your prescriptions and check the expiration dates of your EpiPens to ensure that you always have medication when you need it. For questions about epinephrine auto-injectors or allergy-related conditions, book an appointment at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers online or call (212) 686-4448 today.