September 9, 2020 /
educational / recommended
Most people have experienced, at some time in their life, an allergic reaction. The majority of reactions are typically minor, and related to some environmental (pollen, pet dander, bug bites, etc.) or dietary (fruits, eggs, shellfish, etc.) trigger. Occasionally, and without reason, our immune system – which defends the body against viruses and bacteria – will defend against these triggers creating the typical symptoms of an allergic reaction: itchy skin and eyes, rash, nasal congestion, etc. Some individuals; however, may develop more severe reactions that can lead to anaphylaxis – a serious and potentially fatal allergic reaction most commonly associated with food allergies (especially nuts) bee venom and antibiotics (especially Penicillin).
The only effective way to slow down a dangerous allergic reaction when it occurs, is by using an EpiPen– an injectable dose of epinephrine. How does this work exactly? When administered during an anaphylactic episode, the epinephrine takes effect immediately by relaxing the muscles in your airways to allow you to breathe easier, relaxing your stomach, intestine and bladder muscles, as well as counteracting the drastic drop in blood pressure. Just a single dose of epinephrine can withhold someone long enough until medical attention arrives. Every minute counts as these reactions can rapidly escalate into a life threatening situation. Remember, the EpiPen only buys you time – about 20 mins. As soon as it is administered, you must still go to the closest emergency department – even if you start feeling better. That is because, you must be under medical supervision, as you could be in exactly the same danger once the dose wears off.
Many individuals living through an anaphylactic episode for the first time had no prior clue that they had a severe allergy in the first place! This is why it is important, especially if you are a parent or business, to keep an EpiPen handy and know how to use it, as you can never know when someone may experience a potentially deadly reaction. We recommend that you should have access to at least four EpiPens – one at home, one at the cottage, one at work and one on you at all times. Keeping one in the car is not recommended as the EpiPen loses its potency in the heat.
The administration of epinephrine is quite simple: The blue end of the EpiPen points to the sky and the orange end that covers the needle points to the thigh – the area where it should be injected. When someone is going into anaphylaxis, you remove the blue safety cap from the top and press the orange tip to their thigh (using some force to ensure proper insertion of the needle) and continue to hold the EpiPen in place for a minimum of three seconds to ensure a full dosage. It is best to read the instructions on the side of the EpiPen for guidance and to first check the expiration date before administration. Note that the EpiPen can be administered through clothing so there is no need to waste time by removing any layers.
We encourage you to visit EpiPen’s website for more information on this life saving tool. If you have any doubts about potential allergies, speak to your Doctor about allergy testing!
Stay Safe Everyone!