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HomeHealthWhen To Use An Epipen For Food Allergy

When To Use An Epipen For Food Allergy

Understanding The Importance Of When To Use An Epipen Vs Benadryl

Watch this 5 year old have anaphylaxis and use her EpiPen®

If youre skeptical about when to use an EpiPen and Benadryl, then its important to understand that you can cope with allergies that require Benadryl for some time until you get to a doctor.

But when it comes to escalating or severe allergies that require an EpiPen, it can be a matter of life and death.

If you dont have an EpiPen on hand and want to use Benadryl, its important to know that Benadryl can only treat a few symptoms of severe allergic reactions. Benadryl takes effect around 30 minutes after each dose, which is far too long for treating a severe allergic reaction.

This is why many health professionals emphasize not to be hesitant when it comes to using an EpiPen as soon as you start feeling the symptoms of 3rd or 4th stage allergic reactions.

You should keep in mind that Benadryl cannotsave your life, but an EpiPen can!

Patients are often confused about the symptoms, in such situations, its also recommended to use the EpiPen route.

If you know through consultation that its a mild allergic reaction, like those in stage 1 or 2, then an EpiPen may not be required. Overall, the risk of taking an EpiPen when you dont need it outweighs the risk of fatal reactions or death.

There are no such cases of any death using an EpiPen. The only drawback of using an EpiPen when you dont need it is its side effects, which may include rapid heartbeat, nervousness, shakiness, and anxiety.

How Do I Use It

Hopefully your specialist showed you how to use your EpiPen when it was prescribed for you. Or organised some training. In South Australia, the Women & Childrens Hospital runs a monthly EpiPen Education Clinic for parents and carers of children who have been prescribed an Epipen. Ask your allergist if there is something similar where you live.

The Australia Society of Clinical Immunoilogy and Allergy offer a free online training course for anyone in Australia and New Zealand too.

Instructions for using your Epipen can be found:

  • on the label of the Epipen itself
  • on your Anaphylaxis Action Plan.

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia even have a short video that you can watch on their website with the essential steps for autoinjector use.

Its a good idea to practice regularly so that using your EpiPen is easy in an emergency. We do a practice run when we visit the allergist for annual allergy testing.

What to do:

  • If breathing is difficult they can sit up, but do not stand or walk
  • Form a fist around the EpiPen, keeping fingers and thumbs away from the ends
  • Remember: blue to the sky, orange to the thigh
  • Take off the blue safety release
  • Place the orange end against the outer mid thigh
  • You can use an EpiPen through clothes, but not very thick seams
  • Hold the leg still and push down hard with the EpiPen until you hear or feel a click
  • Hold firmly in place for 3 seconds
  • Remove the EpiPen the orange end will cover the exposed needle

How Many Epipens Do I Need

The short answer is that you probably need more than the two youve been prescribed.

You should carry two with you at all times. Why? Sometimes one of them may not work or you might make a mistake when administering it. It isnt unheard of for people who are under stress to hold the pen incorrectly and inject their own thumb! The other reasons which isnt nice to think about is that sometimes one EpiPen wont be enough. You might need to give a second dose before an ambulance arrives or before you get to the hospital.

#Tip: Always carry two EpiPens

In Australia your prescription will entitle you to two EpiPens funded by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Recommended Reading: Can You Eat Twix With A Peanut Allergy

Mild And Severe Symptoms

  • Nose: itchy or runny nose, sneezing
  • Mouth: itchy mouth
  • Skin: a few hives, mild itch
  • Gut: mild nausea or discomfort

Severe symptoms include:

  • Lung: shortness of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough
  • Heart: pale, blue, faint, weak pulse, dizzy
  • Throat: tight, hoarse, trouble breathing/swallowing
  • Mouth: significant swelling of the tongue or lips
  • Skin: many hives over body, widespread redness
  • Gut: repetitive vomiting or severe diarrhea
  • Psychological: feeling something bad is about to happen, anxiety, confusion

Medication For Food Allergy

  • All food allergic children should have non sedating h1 antihistamines available in liquid form at all times.
  • The treatment of acute asthma requires spacer device inhaled beta-2-agonists, however for more severe symptoms they cannot be relied on solely
  • Adrenalin is indicated for:Any child with a prior severe allergic reaction to the food. Children who have had anaphylaxis or who are considered at high risk of anaphylaxis. Any child with food allergy and more than mild asthma . Children living remote from medical facilities. Most children with peanut allergy.
  • The dose of Adrenalin is 150mcg for children 15-30kg and 300mcg for those over 30kg as an intramuscular injection.
  • A child should always have 2 auto injectors with them in case the first fails or isnt used correctly.
  • There are 4 adrenalin auto injectors available on prescription currently in the Republic of Ireland: Anpen, Emerade, Epipen, Jext. Click on the device name to be redirected directly to the company website.
  • When any of the above are prescribed there must be a clear explanation of when and how to use them. Note Anapen presentation is changing from September 2014.
  • All children with immediate food allergy should have a management plan which can be adapted to the individual. A resource pack for teachers and parents is available from Anaphylaxis Ireland. called Managing Chronic Health Conditions at school.
  • Recommended Reading: What’s Better For Allergies Claritin Or Zyrtec

    Stage 2 Epipen Vs Benadryl

    Stage two allergies may bring about more extreme respiratory symptoms like laryngeal edema. This is as a result of the allergy in stage one spreading gradually.

    If youre unable to breathe and often need help, it may mean that the allergy is spreading and reaching stage two.

    In this stage, symptoms like uterine cramps and vomiting can be experienced. Along with that, you can also get symptoms like swelling around the mouth and the tongue.

    What Allergic Symptoms Should You Watch Out For

    Anaphylaxis occurs within a couple of minutes after being exposed to allergens. It is essential that you know the symptoms so that you can use EpiPen as fast as possible. You have to act fast to avert a possible disaster. While the symptoms may vary from one person to another, heres what you should watch out for:

    Read Also: Can Allergies Cause Fatigue And Body Aches

    Avoid Allergy Triggers Whenever Possible

    • Always check ingredient labels on packaged food
    • Avoid packaged food with precautionary statements for your allergen
    • Avoid eating food with ingredients you dont recognize
    • Avoid eating food that doesnt have an ingredients list
    • Keep in mind:
    • Some food products may contain hidden ingredients
    • Labelling requirements differ from country to country, so pay special attention to food labels when travelling

    When Do You Not Need An Epipen

    Nationwide Children’s Teaches Schools How to Use an EpiPen

    Not every allergic reaction calls for an injection of epinephrine in fact, most of them do not. Common allergic reactions include runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, red eyes, a scratchy throat or cough, and even hives. Sometimes, these reactions resolve on their own. Sometimes, taking an over-the-counter allergy medication like Benadryl can stop the reaction or resolve the symptoms.

    You do not need an EpiPen for these minor reactions. Talk to your Mesa allergy doctor to learn whether you need to have an EpiPen on hand in case of symptoms getting worse. Your doctor will also counsel you on when you should use the EpiPen and how to use it.

    Don’t Miss: Can You Develop Allergies As An Adult

    If Cost Or Availability Is An Obstacle To Getting Your Epinephrine Auto

    We continue to experience shortages with some products, so it is important for patients to know that there are options in injectable epinephrine including EpiPen, Auvi-Q, and several generic choices. If you are switching devices, again, make sure you know the differences in the administration technique of each product. Speak with your allergist and make sure you are comfortable using your device of choice. There is a link with training videos at the end of this blog.

    Mylan and Kaléo offer assistance programs to help patients gain access to injectable epinephrine when cost is an issue.

    You also might consider writing a letter to your insurance company for a tier exception to help lower patient cost.

    Who Should Have An Epipen And How Do I Get One

    Not everyone with food or other allergies needs an EpiPen. Your allergy specialist will consider your personal risk of a severe reaction and decide if it is appropriate to prescribe this medication for you.

    You are more likely to be prescribed an EpiPen if you have a history of severe reaction or a history of generalised allergic reaction with other factors involved. This could include if you have other medical conditions like asthma, your age, the type of allergy or if you live a long way from medical care.

    If you have only had a positive skin prick test or blood test for allergens, you might not be prescribed an EpiPen. Your allergy specialist is the best person to decide.

    Once you have an authority prescription for EpiPen from your speciliast, you can fill it at your pharmacy for the cost of a normal prescription .

    If you have been prescribed an EpiPen, you should have it with you at all times.

    #Tip If your EpiPen has been prescribed for a food allergy, then the best rule is: no EpiPen, no eat. It isnt worth the risk.

    Also Check: Can Allergies Cause Headaches And Fatigue

    Many With Severe Allergies Don’t Carry An Epipen

    HealthDay Reporter

    THURSDAY, June 21, 2018 — Issues with cost or lack of training mean that more than half of U.S. adults at risk of a severe allergic reaction didn’t use a lifesaving EpiPen or other epinephrine auto-injector during a recent attack.

    That’s the finding from a new study of more than 900 adults with potentially life-threatening allergies. The researchers said 52 percent didn’t use their prescribed auto-injectors in an allergic reaction emergency.

    While 89 percent of people surveyed did fill their prescription for the auto-injector, “almost half said they didn’t have with them during their most severe allergic reaction,” said study lead author Christopher Warren, of the University of Southern California.

    “This was despite the fact that 78 percent of the people responding had been hospitalized for their allergy at some point in their lifetime,” Warren said in a news release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology .

    Another 21 percent said they didn’t know how to use their auto-injector, he noted.

    About half the survey participants said an auto-injector was accessible all of the time, 44 percent said they carried at least one all of the time, while less than 25 percent said they routinely carried more than one.

    Anyone who’s been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector should always have it with them and should always carry two in case a severe allergic reaction recurs, according to the ACAAI.

    What Is An Epipen

    EpiPen® Correct Use

    An EpiPen is a pen-like device that delivers the drug epinephrine. The drug counteracts anaphylaxis, which causes a narrowing of the airway and makes it difficult or impossible for people to breathe. Epinephrine helps to relax the muscles, which can help the lungs and airways to open up. The drug also decreases swelling throughout the body and puts a stop to the allergic response.

    An EpiPen is designed to make it easy to deliver the drug quickly if an allergic reaction is taking place. The pen is pre-loaded, and you only have to push the pen against your skin to push out the needle and deliver the drug. The EpiPen is easy to use, and it delivers relief quickly in a life-threatening situation.

    Recommended Reading: How Long Before Allergy Shots Work

    How To Use The Epinephrine Auto

    Instructions come with each injector prescription and are also available online.

    Please visit the online website to review:

    Each epinephrine auto-injector works differently. Always have two injectors with you.

    Practice using the trainer that comes with the prescription. Know how to use it before there is an emergency. Teach anyone who cares for your child when and how to use the auto-injector also.

    Dosing: Each brand makes 2 strengths: 0.15 and 0.3. Auvi-Q also makes a 0.1 mg dose.

    • 0.3mg when weight reaches 55 to 65 pounds
    • 0.15mg for weight up to 55 to 65 pounds
    • 0.1mg for weight below 30 pounds

    Giving the injection:

    • Do not place your thumb, fingers or hand over the tip of the auto-injector.
    • Inject into mid-outer thigh.
    • The person receiving the injection must be sitting or lying down during and after the injection. This helps to prevent their moving a leg at the time of injection.
    • If giving epinephrine to a child, hold the leg firmly in place before and during the injection to prevent injuries.
    • Epinephrine can be injected through clothing if needed.

    Expert Tips For Safe Allergen Eating For The Whole Family

    Dr. Laidlaw notes that, in my case, “this is a problem largely because of her age. In terms of keeping you safe, as soon as she has a comprehension of the fact that these are the foods mom can’t have and I can, and she can wash her own hands after a meal, this is not an issue.” As children age, they can feed themselves in a self-contained way at a certain time of day, eliminating me from the process entirely. “When she’s 4, you can say, ‘Can you please eat your muffin over there and not kiss me afterward?'” explains Dr. Laidlaw.

    Infants, on the other hand, are messy by nature. She suggests baked goods that are dry, not wet, and thus less likely to give me a contact allergy. I should wash my hands if I touch the food and give Isabelle a washcloth in the bath to get the trace allergens out of her mouth. Basically, I’m doing the things for her that she can’t do for herself yet. Dr. Laidlaw’s husband also has allergies, so she warned me months ago that a baby’s vomit or spit up can cause a reaction, too, and that food I can’t have should be clearly labeled in the fridge .

    Once Isabelle can eat an entire serving of the allergens in question, I can assume it’s not an allergy. She’ll need to eat a diverse diet for the rest of her life, but I won’t necessarily be doomed to eating separate meals until the end of time, either. Having modifiable meals like stir-fry, which can have peanuts and eggs on top for her, will be the way to go.

    Also Check: Can You Eat Twix With A Peanut Allergy

    Who Needs An Epipen

    Unfortunately, you may not know that you have a serious allergy until you suffer a serious reaction. However, if you suspect that you might have an allergy because of previous minor reactions or because of family history, you should see an allergy doctor in Mesa to be tested.

    If you have an allergy, your doctor may recommend that you carry an EpiPen just in case you ever have a more serious reaction. Your doctor will make the necessary recommendation based on your history and your overall health.

    Should You Give The Adrenaline Shot Or Wait And See

    Learn How to Use an EpiPen — It Could Save a Life

    There is an understandable unwillingness to administer adrenaline or sound the alarm until the symptoms worsen and it becomes clear that the child is experiencing anaphylaxis, however these delays in treatment can lead to fatalities.

    Giving adrenaline straight away may seem aggressive but it may ultimately be the safer option.

    Image: Flickr/ U.S. Dept of Agriculture under creative commons licence

    Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Allergy Lifestyle Limited Allergy Lifestyle) uses reasonable endeavours to check the accuracy of information provided however no warranty is given that they are error-free. Always seek the advice of an allergy specialist and follow your anaphylaxis emergency care plan.

    Read Also: Can You Lose Sense Of Taste From Allergies

    Epipen And Food Allergy Symptoms

    Recently my Dad came to visit and we started talking about Food Allergy Symptoms, reactions and when to use the Epipen.

    This conversation left me feeling a little embarrassed and upset with myself that I really didn’t have a good answer to this question.

    I have just assumed if you see any swelling it would be time to use it, but is that right or are there other warning signs that you should look for?

    Have you and your family practiced and emergency drill for using the epipen? Do you have a practice kit?

    I recently downloaded a food allergy action plan from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

    This action plan allows you to write down the persons name, DOB, Allergy to list, weight, asthma, and note if the person is extremely reactive to any foods.

    This document lays out a plan for using the epinephrine pen or an antihistamine.

    This is a good piece of paper to fill out and keep in your home or any homes, schools, daycares or other places that your child stays often.

    It is better to plan ahead and help prevent a little panic especially if a severe allergy reaction ever occurs.

    Visit epipens website for details on food allergy symptoms, when to use the pen and information about a practice kit.

    Additionally they have a handy print out with pictures for reference.

    Currently the best form of prevention for food allergies is to avoid the foods you are allergic to.

    As anyone with food allergies knows this can be a daunting and scary task.


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