If you are allergic to nuts or bee stings, you are at risk of developing an allergic reaction potentially deadly called anaphylaxis. Your doctor will probably give you a prescription for multiple EpiPens. An EpiPen is an autoinjector device used by people with severe allergies to inject epinephrine into their thigh muscles. I emphasize the word harsh because an EpiPen is not used to treat everyday allergies, such as hay fever.
Epinephrine, also called adrenaline, counteracts the effects of anaphylaxis on the body. This injection should be injected immediately after exposure to allergens, such as insect venom, food, drugs or latex. EpiPen is a brand; Actually, there are a variety of epinephrine pencils.
Not administering epinephrine to victims of severe allergic reactions at the beginning of their treatment has been documented several times as a cause of death.
Most symptoms of allergies are relatively mild and produce manageable symptoms, such as a poisonous ivy rash or congestion, runny nose, and watery eyes caused by hay fever. However, a small number of people can suffer severe allergic reactions that affect many organ systems. Sometimes being bitten by a bee or ingesting nuts can cause these reactions.
Symptoms that require medical assistance
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advises you to be aware of the following symptoms and to seek immediate medical attention if they appear after exposure to an allergen:
• Red rash itchy, with hives • Throat or other part of the body inflamed • Wheezing • Fainting • Heaviness or tightness in the chest • Difficulty breathing • Hoarse voice • Difficulty swallowing • Vomiting • Diarrhea • Stomach cramps • Red or pale face or body • Feeling of fear or imminent death
How the EpiPens work
At the first sign of anaphylaxis, you must open the EpiPen package, prepare the self-injecting device following the instructions of a health professional and click the tip on the part upper thigh. EpiPen autoinjectors come in two sizes. They provide a 0.3 mg dose of epinephrine for individuals weighing 66 pounds or more and a dose of 0.15 mg for individuals who weigh between 33 and 66 pounds. Each size comes in a two-component cardboard box since a second dose may be necessary before reaching an emergency room.
The use of EpiPen is a step to save life but requires rapid follow-up care because other medical procedures may be necessary to control the anaphylactic reaction.Not administering epinephrine to victims of severe allergic reactions at the beginning of their treatment has been documented repeatedly as a cause of death.
After using an EpiPen, call 911 or go to an emergency room where you have additional treatment and your condition can be monitored.
About the author
Boyan Hadjiev, MD, has been practicing medicine for five years. It is a double board certified in Internal Medicine, (2003) Allergy and Immunology (2005).
Dr. Hadjiev graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in biology and an MD from the Cleveland Clinic-Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.