Allergic reaction management: EpiPen

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Anaphylaxis is basically a severe allergic reaction that entails immediate medical attention. With an EpiPen or epinephrine auto-injector available, it can help buy enough time which works by counteracting the symptoms until the individual can be taken to the hospital.

If an individual is highly sensitive to bee stings or nuts, he/she is at risk for developing a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. The doctor will prescribe an EpiPen. An epinephrine auto-injector is a device utilized by individuals who are prone to severe allergies and injected into the thigh muscles.

Epinephrine or adrenalin works by counteracting the effects of anaphylaxis in the body. Take note that this must be used right after exposure to an allergen such as food, insect venom, latex and certain medications. EpiPen is a commonly used brand but there are other varieties of epinephrine auto-injectors available in the market today. If a shot is not given to an individual experiencing a severe allergic reaction early, the reaction is considered as the cause of death.

EpiPen
An epinephrine auto-injector is a device utilized by individuals who are prone to severe allergies and injected into the thigh muscles.

What is anaphylaxis?

Most of the allergy symptoms are relatively minor and readily manageable such as rash from poison ivy exposure or runny nose, nasal congestion and watery eyes caused by hay fever. Nevertheless, some individuals can suffer from severe allergic reactions that can affect several bodily systems. Ingestion of nuts or being stung by a bee can sometimes trigger this reaction.

What are the symptoms that need medical attention?

It is vital to watch out for the following signs and symptoms and seek immediate medical attention, especially if they manifest right after being exposed to an allergen:

  • Wheezing
  • Red-colored, itchy rash with hives
  • Swollen throat or other body parts
  • Chest tightness or heaviness
  • Fainting
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Reddish or pale face or body
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Feeling of impending doom or dread

How an EpiPen works

Once the initial sign of anaphylaxis is observed, you have to open the packaging of the EpiPen and prepare the auto-injector as instructed by the doctor and administer a shot into the upper part of the thigh muscle.

EpiPen auto-injectors are available in two sizes. One delivers a 0.3 mg dose of epinephrine for those who weigh 66 pounds or more and another delivers a 0.15 mg dose for those who weigh between 33 and 66 pounds. Each size comes in a two-pack carton since it might be required to administer a second shot before reaching the hospital.

Remember that using an EpiPen is a life-saving step but requires rapid follow-up care since other medical procedures might be needed to control the reaction. Unable to administer epinephrine to an individual experiencing a severe allergic reaction early has been known to cause death.

After delivering a shot, call for emergency assistance or bring the individual to the nearest emergency department so that additional treatment can be readily provided as well as proper monitoring of the condition is ensured.

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