An EpiPen (which stands for epinephrine) is an emergency device that can save the life of someone experiencing anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. It is important, either if you have allergies or know someone who does, to educate yourself on an EpiPen and how to use an EpiPen. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is an EpiPen?
An EpiPen is the pen-like device used to deliver the medication epinephrine. During anaphylaxis, the epinephrine acts quickly to shut down the body’s allergic reaction, helping to relax muscles around the airway and help a victim recover. Epinephrine is the only medication that works on the entire body. Anaphylaxis can be recognized and is made dangerous by the fact that it is marked by symptoms in two or more systems of the body at a time. An EpiPen can shut down all symptoms in all systems at once, making it a life-saving device.
Who Needs an EpiPen?
An EpiPen is used on a person experiencing a severe allergic reaction. Most people with diagnosed severe allergies will already carry around an EpiPen. People with severe allergies to foods, insect stings, latex, medications and similar can all benefit from EpiPen treatment when experiencing severe allergy symptoms. Use an EpiPen if you witness someone experiencing anaphylaxis symptoms, which can occur just minutes after exposure to an allergen. Symptoms including anxiety, confusion, dizziness, fainting, an itchy or tingling mouth, lips, and tongue, swelling of lips or tongue, itching, hives and skin redness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, throat closing, nausea, cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Breathing problems are usually the most readily recognizable symptoms of anaphylaxis. Do not hesitate to administer an EpiPen if you suspect a severe allergic reaction. In such cases, it is better to be safe than sorry.
How to Use an EpiPen
As the name implies, EpiPen looks like a pen and is roughly the same size, though wider in circumference. How to use an EpiPen? To administer the EpiPen, hold the EpiPen with one fist (do not hold your hand for support or you risk potential accidental trigger of the device). Then swiftly and firmly push down the EpiPen (inject it) into the mid-outer area of the thigh. Keep the pen in for a few seconds to make sure the full dose is delivered. Even once the dose is administered, immediately call 911 just in case there is a need for further treatment or symptoms recur.