What to know about EpiPens for allergies

Allergies are a result of the body’s reaction to a foreign substance such as bee venom, pollen, dust, or pet dander. When you have allergies, the immune system generates substances known as antibodies that single out a particular allergen as harmful even when it may not be. Each time you come into contact with the allergen, the reaction of your immune system can lead to symptoms such as a runny nose, headache, watery eyes, fever, sneezing, dry cough, and inflammation of the digestive system. The severity varies from one person to another and may range from seasonal irritation to anaphylaxis, a condition that may lead to death if not adequately treated.

Using an EpiPen for allergies

There are various treatment options for allergies such as the use of antihistamines. However, one of the most effective treatment options for severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) is an EpiPen.

For starters, EpiPen is an injection that contains a chemical known as epinephrine and is used to treat severe allergic reactions allergens. EpiPen Jr. is used to treat anaphylaxis in children. Epinephrine works by narrowing the blood vessels and opening up the airways in the lungs. Note that despite its action, epinephrine is not used to treat asthma and may not be effective if using to treat asthma symptoms.

What allergies require an EpiPen?

Any severe allergic reaction, also known as anaphylaxis, can be treated with an EpiPen. This can include food allergies like a peanut allergy, allergic reactions to insect stings and bites, and allergies to medications. Epinephrine can even be used to treat exercise-induced anaphylaxis, which is a rare form of anaphylaxis that may include symptoms like itching, hives, and wheezing.

Anaphylaxis is unpredictable, so acting fast is essential

Due to the unpredictability of anaphylaxis, it is essential that parents and caregivers of children with anaphylaxis, as well as adults with severe allergies, be on high alert in case of an emergency. Even though avoiding allergens is the best way to contain anaphylaxis, it is nearly impossible to avoid everything. In case a person or child you’re caring for displays signs of anaphylaxis, administer EpiPen or EpiPen Jr. immediately.

The National Food and Allergy Guidelines recommend the use of epinephrine as the first line of treatment in case of a life-threatening allergic reaction as opposed to administering antihistamines. A delay in administering epinephrine may lead to untimely death. Once you use an EpiPen, you still need to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible and should go an emergency room.

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, here’s what you should watch out for:


  • Feeling anxious
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Passing out


  • Itching
  • Swelling of lips and tongue
  • Tingling of lips or tongue


  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing


  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Redness
  • Swelling


  • Itching
  • Tightness/closure
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Heart
  • Weak pulse
  • Fast heartbeat


  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps

Remember that a fast response can make all the difference. Consider contacting a doctor immediately if the symptoms worsen.

EpiPen dosage and safety information

The EpiPen Auto-Injector contains a single dose of epinephrine injection, both for adults and children. It is injected into the middle of the upper thigh and can be administered through clothing. Only a qualified healthcare professional may administer more than one dose of epinephrine for a single anaphylaxis occurrence.

Epinephrine should be used with caution if you have heart disease or are taking medications used to treat heart-related problems or medications used to treat asthma. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have conditions such as asthma, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes as well as the Parkinson’s Disease before using epinephrine.

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