Anaphylaxis is a very severe form of allergic reaction. Immediate and life-threatening symptoms, including breathing difficulties, can be the result of exposure to an allergen, such as peanuts or eggs. Anaphylaxis is a serious medical condition, but prompt treatment can save lives.…
What is an EpiPen®?
An EpiPen is a trademarked device that administers a specific dose of adrenaline if you are having a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. There are two doses of EpiPen: 300 micrograms if you weigh more than 20 kilograms, and 150 micrograms for children between 10-20 kilograms.
When to use your EpiPen®
Your doctor has prescribed you an EpiPen for emergency treatment for anaphylaxis. People who get anaphylaxis may be allergic to different things, but their immune system responds in the same way. Symptoms that may indicate an anaphylactic reaction are:
- Wheezing or trouble breathing;
- Swollen tongue or lips;
- Difficulty speaking or a hoarse voice;
- Swelling of your throat, and;
- Dizziness or collapse.
Your doctor will probably provide you with an anaphylaxis management plan tailored to your particular situation.
Looking after your EpiPen®
- Store it in the dark;
- Keep it between 15°C and 25°C, not refrigerated;
- Have it with you at all times. If your child has allergies, leave an EpiPen at their childcare facility or school;
- Note when the EpiPen is due to expire and ensure you have an appointment with your doctor to get a script to replace it, and;
- If the contents of your EpiPen have become discoloured or contain residue, it may be an indication that the adrenaline is less effective. Your EpiPen will need replacing in this circumstance.
Administering an EpiPen®
An EpiPen has a blue safety top and orange tip. The needle protrudes out of the orange tip, so it is important not to put your fingers over the orange tip. The EpiPen should only be used in the outer mid-thigh.
You will probably feel better within seconds of using the EpiPen. However, it is important to still call an ambulance, as the adrenaline wears off after 20-30 minutes and your symptoms of anaphylaxis can return.