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

Signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

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

The most common warning symptoms of anaphylaxis are:

  • Swelling
  • Hives
Red mouth indicating swelling of the lips or tongue, metallic taste, itching
Mouth

Swelling of the lips or tongue, metallic taste, itching.

Red throat indicating swelling, itching, difficulty swallowing
Throat*

Swelling, itching, difficulty swallowing.

Red skin cells above and below the surface indicating swelling around the eyes, hives, flushing, itching, redness, paleness
Red skin cells above and below the surface indicating swelling around the eyes, hives, flushing, itching, redness, paleness
Skin

Swelling around the eyes, hives, flushing, itching, redness, paleness.

Red intestines indicating cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Gut

Cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

Red lungs indicating difficulty breathing, wheeze, cough
Lung*

Difficulty breathing, wheeze, cough.

Red heart indicating increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, chest pain, irregular heart beat
Heart*

Increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, chest pain, irregular heart beat.

Overall*

Sudden feeling of weakness, feeling faint, anxiety or an overwhelming sense of doom, collapse, loss of consciousness.

* Some symptoms can be life-threatening. The EpiPen® Auto-Injector is not indicated to prevent death associated with anaphylaxis.


Video: When to use EpiPen®

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction and what you should do.
When to Use EpiPen®
Play the 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 paleness, dizziness, weakness, shaking, headache, throbbing, restlessness, anxiety, tenseness, or fear.

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.

Having asthma – especially if it’s not controlled – puts you at a higher risk of breathing difficulties during a severe allergic reaction.

Respiratory symptoms are typical during a severe allergic reaction and can be confused with an asthma attack.

When you’re uncertain whether you or your child is having an asthma attack or a severe allergic reaction, always use EpiPen® first.

EpiPen® is the first line emergency treatment for severe, life-threatening allergic reactions even if you have asthma.

After using EpiPen®, follow your doctor’s instructions for controlling asthma.

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

EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® contains meta-bisulfite. This can cause allergic reactions and bronchospasms in those with a history of asthma. You should follow your doctor’s instructions carefully on when you or your child can use EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr®.

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®.

If you or your child do not feel better or get worse you can inject another dose of EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® 5 to 15 minutes after the first injection.

Do not inject more than 2 injections right after each other.

Too much epinephrine can cause dangerously high blood pressure, stroke, or death. Signs of an overdose include:

  • Irregular heart beat
  • Difficulty breathing caused by a build-up of fluid in your lungs

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.