When Should You Use an EpiPen?


Quick Answer

Use an EpiPen when experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction, according to EpiPen’s manufacturer. The EpiPen contains the medication epinephrine, which is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis that the National Food Allergy Guidelines recommend. Anaphylaxis is an unpredictable life-threatening condition, which makes the administration of epinephrine important for people with known allergies experiencing symptoms. Administer the injection as the prescribing physician recommends.

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Full Answer

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include anxiety or confusion, dizziness and passing out, notes the manufacturer of EpiPen. Other symptoms include itching around the mouth, swelling or tingling of the lips or tongue, and shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. Anaphylaxis may also cause itching, hives and redness of the skin and itching, hoarseness or tightening of the throat. Fast heartbeat and a weak pulse are additional symptoms.

To use an EpiPen, flip the cap open to remove the unit, grasp it with the orange tip pointing downward, pull off the blue safety release, hold the tip near the outer thigh, and firmly push the tip against the thigh at a 90-degree angle until the pen clicks, advises the manufacturer. Hold the pen against the thigh for 10 seconds to ensure complete medication delivery. Remove the pen, and massage the site of injection for around 10 seconds.

The EpiPen injector comes in two strengths, including the EpiPen Jr. for people weighing 33 to 66 pounds and the basic EpiPen for people weighing 66 pounds or more, advises the manufacturer. EpiPen comes in both single and two-pack variations, since most doctors suggest that people who are prone to allergic reactions always keep two pens on hand and carry pens with them wherever they go.

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