How to Use an EpiPen® to Save a Life
According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 1,500 fatalities a year are due to a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. However, receiving prompt treatment with epinephrine (an EpiPen®) can mean the difference between life and death.
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction resulting in a drop in blood pressure and narrowing of the airways after exposure to an allergen or trigger.
Food, insect bites or stings and medications are the most likely causes.
Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Mouth: itching and swelling of lips and tongue
Throat: itching, tightness, closure, hoarseness and difficulty swallowing
Skin: itching, hives, redness and swelling
Stomach: vomiting, diarrhea and cramps
Chest: shortness of breath, cough, wheeze and chest pain/tightness
Heart: weak pulse, dizziness and passing out
Other: a feeling of impending doom, headache, itchy/watery eyes and nasal congestion
If you have an EpiPen, make sure you always have it with you and carry a spare. (Up to 35% of people require more than one dose.)
Next, make sure those close to you are aware of your health situation. Share your triggers and symptoms with them and show them where you keep your EpiPen. Many patients are given practice EpiPens to become more comfortable with how they work. If you haven’t already, you can request one from your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about creating an action plan. This plan should instruct you and others what to watch out for and what to do in case of anaphylaxis.
This plan will be a great reference for you and others on what to watch out for and what to do in case of anaphylaxis.
You will not harm someone by administering an EpiPen. However, delaying giving an injection can lead to death.
Knowing Your EpiPen
Use the following steps from the medical experts at Healthline to administer an EpiPen:
- 1. Remove the auto-injector (EpiPen) from its clear carrier tube.
- 2. Form a fist, gripping the auto-injector in your dominant hand so the orange tip points downward. Make sure your fingers aren’t covering either end.
- 3. Use your other hand to pull straight up (not sideways) and remove the blue safety release. Don’t twist or bend it.
- 4. Position the child to receive the injection. Older children c
- 5. Inject the orange tip of the epinephrine auto-injector firmly into the middle part of the child’s upper thigh. Push until it clicks.
- 6. Be sure to hold the auto-injector in place for at least 3 seconds before you remove it from the child’s thigh.
- 7. Carefully massage the injection area for about 10 seconds.
- 8. Call 911 to seek emergency care.
- 9. An epinephrine auto-injector can be administered through clothes if necessary.
If you need to administer an epinephrine auto-injector to another adult, follow the steps above and administer the injection into the upper thigh.
an sit or lie down. Smaller children may need to be held in your lap. Be sure to hold their leg gently yet firmly in place.