The EpiPen is an automatic epinephrine injector used to treat an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis has the potential to result in death and the patient must be helped first before calling emergency services. Epinephrine is a man-made adrenaline whose single dose carries very low risk when administered correctly. Using the EpiPen in the right way and at the right time will save a person's life.
Part 1 of 3: Identifying the Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Step 1. Identify the symptoms
Anaphylaxis occurs when a person is accidentally exposed to an allergen (either for the first time, or later). A person can also be more sensitive to an allergen. That is, a person becomes allergic to something that did not previously provoke an anaphylactic reaction. In some cases, the reaction can be severe and life-threatening. Watch out for the following symptoms:
- Reddish skin
- Rashes appear on the body
- Swollen throat and mouth
- Difficulty swallowing and talking
- acute asthma
- Pain in the stomach area
- Start and vomit
- Blood pressure drop
- Fainted and unconscious.
- Confusion, dizziness, or excessive anxiety
Step 2. Ask if the patient needs help using the EpiPen
Help for anaphylactic patients should be prioritized. If a patient needs an EpiPen injection and can guide you, help the patient first. Instructions for use of the EpiPen are listed on the side of the device.
Step 3. Call emergency services
Even though epinephrine has been given, the patient still needs medical attention as soon as possible.
- Always have an emergency number on your cell phone.
- Immediately notify the patient's location when connected to emergency services so that help can be sent immediately.
- Explain the patient's condition and emergency situation to the operator.
Step 4. Check the medical identification necklace or bracelet
If you think someone has anaphylaxis, look for a medical identification necklace or bracelet on the patient. Patients with severe allergies usually carry this necklace or bracelet in anticipation of an unexpected attack.
- Usually, the details of the wearer's condition and additional health information are listed on this necklace or bracelet.
- These bracelets or necklaces usually bear the symbol of the Red Cross or other similar striking emblem.
- If you suffer from severe allergies, always carry the instructions for use with your EpiPen with you. That way, if you're unconscious, someone else can figure out how to use the EpiPen and help you.
- Do not give EpiPen to allergic patients with heart disease unless permitted by a doctor's prescription.
Part 2 of 3: Using the EpiPen
Step 1. Hold the EpiPen firmly in the center of the tool
Keep fingers away from both ends of the appliance to prevent accidental use of the medicine. The EpiPen is a disposable device. Once the drug has been injected, the EpiPen can no longer be used.
- Do not place your fingers on either end of the tool so that the trigger is not activated.
- Pull the blue cap to activate the tool (it's opposite from the orange tip that has the needle).
Step 2. Inject into the outer mid-thigh
Place the orange tip on the thigh and press firmly. Once the needle has pierced the thigh, you should hear a 'click' sound once.
- Hold for a few seconds.
- Do not inject the EpiPen anywhere else on the body except the thigh. Injection of adrenaline into a vein can result in death.
Step 3. Unplug the EpiPen
Remove the tool from the thigh and massage the injection site for 10 seconds.
Check the tip of the orange color. The orange cap should cover the needle automatically when the EpiPen is removed from the thigh
Step 4. Be prepared for side effects
EpiPen injections will cause panic and paranoia so that the patient's body trembles violently. The patient is NOT having a seizure.
The shaking will go away in a few minutes or hours. Don't panic, stay calm and think with a cool head. Your calmness will help to reassure the patient
Step 5. Take the patient to the hospital immediately
20% of acute anaphylaxis is immediately followed by a serious condition called biphasic anaphylaxis. After the EpiPen is injected into the patient, immediately take the patient to the hospital.
- The second episode can be mild or severe. If not treated immediately, the patient can die.
- The second crisis occurs when the patient seems to have recovered. Make sure you go to the hospital even if you feel fine.
Part 3 of 3: Caring for an EpiPen
Step 1. Keep the EpiPen in its box until the time of use
Step 2. Look into the “window” on the EpiPen
Most EpiPens have a window on the packaging to view the medication inside. The medicine inside the EpiPen is clear in color. If the medication appears cloudy or discolored, the EpiPen has lost its efficacy due to exposure to high temperatures. This can happen even before the expiration date.
You can use cloudy medicine in an emergency. But it is recommended to replace this drug as soon as possible
Step 3. Store the EpiPen properly
EpiPen should be stored at room temperature.
- Don't store it in the fridge
- Do not expose the EpiPen to extremely low or high temperatures.
Step 4. Check the expiration date
EpiPens have a shelf life and must be replaced when the expiration date is near. An expired EpiPen may not save the patient.
- If no other EpiPen is available, please use an expired EpiPen. Epinephrine will only lose its potency and not turn into harmful compounds. Better than no help at all.
- If the EpiPen has been used, the trash must be disposed of safely. The trick, bring your used EpiPen to the pharmacy.
- Your doctor and nurse will show you how to use the EpiPen when medication is prescribed.
- Inject EpiPen only to its owner.