EpiPen Safety

In the event you or a loved one is faced with a life-threatening allergic reaction, here are some facts to help you confidently administer an EpiPen injection.
EpiPen Safety

An EpiPen is a medicine intended to treat a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, often to insect stings/bites, foods, pharmaceuticals, or other substances. It works swiftly to promote breathing, stimulates the heart, raises low blood pressure, reverses hives, and minimizes facial, lip, and throat swelling.

In the event you or a loved one is faced with a life-threatening allergic reaction, below are some facts to help you confidently administer an EpiPen injection.


You CAN administer an EpiPen through clothing

  • It’s a common misconception that an EpiPen can only be used on bare skin. The needle is long and sharp enough to pierce clothing.


Improper storage can lead to malfunction

  • Keep your EpiPen at room temperature in a cold, dark place. When auto-injectors are stored in heat, their potency might be lost in just a few hours.


Some EpiPens will guide you through an injection

  • Several brands of EpiPen will talk you through the injection via a small speaker in the EpiPen container.
  • Not all EpiPen brands have this capability, so it’s still important to know how to use one without instruction. To learn more about administering an EpiPen injection, read the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine guide here.


There are different doses for different people

  • The appropriate dose is calculated based on someone’s weight, therefore dosing amounts for newborns, children, and adults differ. A doctor assesses each patient carefully to find the proper dosage.
  • For some allergic reactions, a second dose injected directly into the vein is necessary, although this should be done by medical professionals only. After administering the first EpiPen, it’s vital to contact emergency medical personnel.


An EpiPen increases your blood pressure

  • When using an EpiPen, elevated blood pressure is a good sign that the treatment is functioning. It constricts blood vessels, resulting in increased blood pressure in order to sustain circulation.


Early injection is important

  • Because anaphylaxis can escalate quickly, patients should use the EpiPen as soon as they notice a severe reaction. Anaphylaxis symptoms 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


An EpiPen contains a single dose of epinephrine

  • All brands of EpiPen are single use. It is very important to dispose of an EpiPen as soon as it has been used or has expired. Doctor’s offices and hospital can dispose of auto-injectors safely, as well as some pharmacies. If those aren’t an option, some communities have household hazardous waste collection programs, oftentimes at your local police station.


Above all else, remember that epinephrine is fast acting, but temporary, so it’s imperative to call 911 immediately when you give or take the injection – even if you’re feeling better.


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