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How Do I Use an Epi-Pen?

January 9, 2020

Do you have a loved one that suffers from a serious allergy? If they’re exposed to an allergen, they may experience a range of symptoms, from an itchy, swollen tongue, to hives and problems with breathing. If their allergy is serious enough, they may go into anaphylactic shock. If someone is exhibiting signs of anaphylaxis, they’re advised to administer epinephrine while they wait for the ambulance to arrive.


It’s important to go to the hospital after a severe allergic reaction so doctors can treat you, but in order to give yourself time to get there before symptoms take over, using an EpiPen is needed. An EpiPen Auto-Injector automatic injection device contains epinephrine. It acts as a shot of adrenaline and gives you time to get to the hospital. Individuals with severe allergies should carry their EpiPens on them at all times, or keep them in a close, accessible place.


Unlike you see in the movies, you don’t need to dramatically jab someone with force in the thigh with their EpiPen. The process can be completed in 2 easy steps. When holding the device with the orange tip pointing downward, the blue cap should be pulled straight off. Be careful not to bend or twist it. Find a meaty part of the middle outer thigh, and place the orange tip against it. Push firmly on the auto-injector until it clicks, and then hold steadily for 3 seconds.


It is crucial to have an EpiPen on your person if you have severe allergies. It’s also important to ensure your EpiPen has not expired. Expired EpiPens will not be very effective, if at all. Sometimes, ambulance responders do not carry epinephrine, and the medical responders may not be authorized to use the drug. Only a handful of states require it to be carried. Unless EMTs have specific training in administering epinephrine, many are not allowed to use it, even though it can save lives. The auto-injectors are also expensive. When calling 911, you or the person calling should tell dispatch that there’s an anaphylactic allergic reaction. That should prompt them to bring epinephrine and send an Advance Life Support crew that can administer epinephrine.

Even after using an EpiPen, you still need to go to the hospital. The effects of the epinephrine may wear off, it might not work, or you may have another reaction. Call 911, or visit the emergency room immediately.