An Epipen is a brand name for an autoinjector that delivers a single dose of epinephrine. It is used to treat severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment to prevent serious complications or even death. Epipen provides a shot of epinephrine that can counteract the allergic reaction and help the person to breathe normally again.
What’s inside an Epipen?
An Epipen contains a pre-filled syringe that holds a single dose of epinephrine. The dose can be either 0.3 mg or 0.15 mg, depending on the user’s weight and age.
The syringe is concealed inside a plastic case that has a safety cap at one end and a needle at the other end. The safety cap needs to be removed before using the device.
When the user activates the Epipen, the needle comes out of the plastic case and injects epinephrine into the thigh muscle.
How does epinephrine work?
Epinephrine works by narrowing the blood vessels and opening the airways in the lungs. This helps to increase blood pressure and improve breathing, which can counteract the allergic reaction.
Epinephrine also reduces the production of histamine, a chemical that is released during an allergic reaction and can cause inflammation, swelling, and itching.
Who needs an Epipen?
An Epipen is recommended for anyone who has a history of severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. This includes people who have allergies to foods, insect stings or bites, medications, or latex.
People who have a family history of anaphylaxis or who have been diagnosed with asthma may also need an Epipen to manage their symptoms in case of an emergency.
How to use an Epipen?
Using an Epipen is simple and straightforward. Here are the steps to follow:
- Remove the safety cap from the Epipen.
- Hold the device firmly in your dominant hand.
- Swing and jab the needle into the outer thigh, at a 90-degree angle, until the device clicks.
- Hold the needle in place for 10 seconds, then remove it from the thigh.
- Massage the injection site for 10 seconds to help the epinephrine to circulate into the bloodstream.
What are the side effects of Epipen?
The most common side effects of Epipen include:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Nervousness, anxiety, or restlessness
- Tremors or shakiness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
Most of these side effects are mild and go away within a few minutes. However, if you experience any severe side effects or an allergic reaction to the Epipen, seek medical attention immediately.
How to store an Epipen?
An Epipen should be stored at room temperature, between 15°C and 30°C. Avoid exposing it to extreme heat or cold, and do not refrigerate or freeze it.
Keep the Epipen in its original container, and check the expiration date regularly. Replace the device before the expiration date or if the liquid appears discolored or cloudy.
An Epipen is a life-saving device that can help to treat severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. If you or someone you know is at risk of anaphylaxis, it’s important to carry an Epipen and know how to use it properly.
- What is the cost of an Epipen?
The cost of an Epipen can vary depending on your insurance coverage and pharmacy discounts. On average, one single dose Epipen costs around $700.
- Are there any alternatives to Epipen?
Yes, there are several alternatives to Epipen, including Auvi-Q, Adrenaclick, and generic versions of epinephrine autoinjectors. Talk to your doctor to find out which option is best for you.
- Can I reuse an Epipen?
No, you should never reuse an Epipen. After it has been used, the device is no longer sterile and may not deliver the correct dose of epinephrine the second time around.
- How long does the effect of an Epipen last?
The effect of an Epipen typically lasts for about 10-20 minutes. However, this can vary depending on the severity of the allergic reaction and the individual’s response to epinephrine.
1. Epipen. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://www.epipen.com/
2. Anaphylaxis. (2020, August 14). Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351468
3. What’s Inside an Epipen. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/epipen.html