When to use EpiPen®

If you have been prescribed EpiPen®, you should carry it with you at all times...and use it immediately at the first signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

Signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can occur within minutes or several hours after exposure to an allergy trigger:

*Some symptoms can be life-threatening.

Red mouth indicating itching, swelling of the lips and tongue
Mouth

Itching, swelling of the lips and/or tongue.

Red throat indicating itching, tightness, closure, hoarseness
Throat*

Itching, tightness, closure, hoarseness.

Red skin cells above and below the surface indicating itching, hives, redness, and swelling
Red skin cells above and below the surface indicating itching, hives, redness, and swelling
Skin

Itching, hives, redness, swelling.

Red intestines indicating vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps
Gut

Vomiting, diarrhea, cramps.

Red lungs indicating shortness of breath, cough, and wheeze
Lung*

Shortness of breath, cough, wheeze.

Red heart indicating weak pulse, dizziness, and passing out (due to low blood pressure)
Heart*

Weak pulse, dizziness, passing out (due to low blood pressure).

In a severe allergic emergency, quick symptom recognition and immediate treatment are vital.

The two most common symptoms of a severe allergic reaction are:

  • Hives, and
  • Welts on the skin

Other symptoms can include:

  • Swelling of the throat, lips, tongue, or around the eyes
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • A metallic taste or itching in the mouth
  • Sudden reddening of the face or flushing, itching, or redness of the skin
  • Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Rising heart rate, or
  • Low blood pressure and paleness
  • Sudden weakness
  • Anxiety, or an overwhelming sense of doom
  • Fainting

Video : When to use EpiPen®

Watch/listen to this video to learn more about the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction and what you should do.
When to use EpiPen®
Screen shot of When to Use EpiPen video

Any delay in recognizing the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening.

Within minutes, an allergic reaction may turn into a life-threatening severe allergic reaction. Sometimes the reaction can occur in two phases, with another reaction occurring up to 38 hours after the initial reaction.

Fatal reactions are due to airway obstruction or a collapse of blood vessels.

Every second counts.

Using epinephrine (the medicine in EpiPen®) immediately after exposure to an allergy trigger can help reverse the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction…and could help save a life.

You may not always have predictable reactions and sometimes there may not be enough warning signs before a serious reaction occurs.

Don’t hesitate.

If you are unsure whether or not you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, it is generally better to use EpiPen®.

Some side effects from using EpiPen® may include rapid heart rate, paleness, dizziness, weakness, tremors or headache.

EpiPen® is for emergency treatment only and does not replace seeing a healthcare provider or going to the hospital.

Anaphylaxis and asthma: Use EpiPen® first.

If someone who has severe allergies and asthma is having an asthma attack, but you’re uncertain whether it’s an asthma attack or a severe allergic reaction, use EpiPen first.

After using epinephrine, follow medical instructions for controlling asthma.

Remember, antihistamines have not been proven to stop a severe allergic reaction and should not be used before EpiPen®.

If you are unsure whether or not you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, it is generally better to use EpiPen®.

When to use more than one EpiPen®.

In most people, epinephrine is effective after one injection.

However, symptoms may recur and further injections may be needed. Epinephrine can be re-injected every 5 to 15 minutes until the severe allergic reaction stops completely.

Injecting too much epinephrine can cause adrenaline excess that may cause a rapid heartbeat, trembling, shaking, and anxiety. Talk to your doctor or allergist about the number of times you can re-inject epinephrine.

Since there is no way to predict the severity of a reaction and because a severe allergic reaction can quickly get worse, waiting for paramedics or emergency workers to administer epinephrine can increase your risk.

If you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction then hesitating to use EpiPen® – or not using it at all – can lead to a life-threatening situation.

Consider having more than one EpiPen® on hand in your home and when going out.

Note: The EpiPen® Auto-Injector is not indicated to prevent death associated with anaphylaxis. Because anaphylaxis is a generalized reaction, a wide variety of clinical signs and symptoms may be observed.