What is an Epinephrine Auto-Injector?
Epinephrine auto-injectors are used for the treatments of life threatening allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis. EpiPens are the most widely prescribed epinephrine injectors which is why they will be almost exclusively discussed for the rest of this post. Other brands include: Auvi-Q or Twinject.
Who Needs an Epinephrine Auto-Injector?
Anyone who is at a high risk for an anaphylactic reaction should carry an EpiPen or other epinephrine auto-injector.
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis occurs when an allergic reaction causes your immune system to flood your body with chemicals that can cause the body to go into shock. A rapid weak pulse, a skin rash, and nausea and vomiting are all symptoms of anaphylaxis. If anaphylaxis is not treated properly it can be deadly.
What Triggers Anaphylaxis?
There are several things that can trigger this kind of allergic reaction. Some common triggers for anaphylaxis are certain foods (the most common being peanut, tree nuts, milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish), latex, insect venom and some medications.
Children with Asthma are at a Higher Risk for Anaphylaxis.
If your asthmatic child has ever had any kind of allergic reaction you should talk with your pediatrician if an EpiPen, EpiPen JR or other epinephrine auto-injector is needed. Having asthma puts your child at an increased risk for a more severe reaction, even if previous allergic reactions were mild. Recent studies have also indicated that if your child has food allergies they may need two doses of epinephrine to warn off anaphylaxis which is why EpiPens come in two packs only now. If you are still unsure if your child is at high risk try taking this assessment QUIZ and be sure to share the results with your child's physician.
How to Use an EpiPen
Your child's EpiPen comes with instructions and a trainer that can help you practice using the medication. It is very important to practice this with the trainer because a life threatening reaction is not the time to have to figure the medication out. This helpful VIDEO can show you how to use your EpiPen and you can get a free training device if you've lost yours.
EpiPens and School
If your child is in school you will need an prescription to send an EpiPen with them. Their EpiPen should be a part of their Asthma and Allergy Action Plan or Health Care Plan at school. Get these papers in order prior to the beginning of each new school year.
Be sure to let your school nurses know about the EpiPens For Schools Program. You can get free EpiPens for the school that will be replenished at NO COST if used for emergency. I let our school nurse know a couple of years ago and got a nice thank you note from our School District because every school in the district has free EpiPens now.
Note: During the 2012-13 school year, 21 of the 38 people who were injected with undesignated EpiPens in Chicago Public Schools, provided through the EpiPen4Schools program, did not previously know they had an allergy. These undesignated EpiPens likely saved their lives (2)
Medications can get expensive but there are programs that can help! There are four more months left in 2014 to get a discount card for $100 toward your EpiPen copay. This card works every time you fill your prescription and can be used up to three times. For our family the copay card makes our EpiPens FREE!
Published On: September 19, 2014