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An Overview of Epinephrine

An Overview of Epinephrine

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. This can happen within minutes of exposure to an allergen and can affect multiple parts of the body at the same time. Common triggers include medications, food, insect venom, and latex. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Difficulty breathing, cough, wheezing
  • Pale skin, feeling faint, weak pulse, dizziness
  • Tight throat, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing
  • Swelling of the tongue or lips
  • Hives or widespread redness
  • Repetitive vomiting, severe diarrhea
  • Confusion, anxiety, feeling something bad is about to happen, etc.

What is an epinephrine injectable device?

An epinephrine autoinjector is a lifesaving, emergency medication used for treating anaphylaxis. These autoinjector devices contain a medication known as epinephrine (also known as adrenaline).

Who needs an epinephrine injectable device?

Individuals who have experienced anaphylaxis from a known or unknown cause. We know our patients here in the Salt Lake Valley are active, but this device should be carried with you at all times. If your child has an allergy, the school nurse or healthcare provider can hold onto the device. It must be used in an emergency. 

Are there different types of epinephrine injectable devices?

Yes, there are multiple brands and each device has its own unique set of instructions. These include EpiPen, Symjepi, Auvi-Q, and several generic types. There are also pediatric versions (Jr's) of these devices. Many of these injectors come with a training device in order to practice and train the individual, family members, or caregivers on appropriate use of the device. It is important that you read the instructions carefully before an event happens so you are comfortable using the device in an emergency. There are also different doses available depending on the weight of the patient, so it is important to ensure that you are using the appropriate dose (most important for families with multiple devices).

When should I use my epinephrine injectable device?

This may vary from person to person depending on the severity of your allergy, however, it should always be used in the case of life-threatening symptoms. For the majority of patients, the medication should be given if you are exposed to the allergen and start to experience symptoms of anaphylaxis. Some individuals are instructed to use the device with known exposure to a trigger and experience mild symptoms. It is important to discuss your anaphylaxis action plan with your allergy provider. Most individuals can inject themselves, but it is important to teach others how to use it in case you have a reaction are unable to inject yourself.

Can I just take antihistamines instead of my epinephrine injectable device?

Epinephrine is the only effective treatment for anaphylaxis. Antihistamines can minimize allergy symptoms including hives, itching or flushing. However, they cannot be used to treat the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis.

What should I do after using my epinephrine injectable device?

Call 911 or seek emergency medical attention after using your device. The medication could wear off and a full evaluation is needed.

Allergy Associates of Utah is an allergy, asthma, and immunology specialty clinic serving the greater Salt Lake City, Utah area with 2 convenient locations in Murray and West Jordan. Led by specialists Andrew Smith, MD, MS, and Tara Sarin, MD, the practice strives to help people of all ages and background achieve success. Request an appointment by phone or online at either Allergy Associates of Utah location for expert allergy and immunology care today.

Phone: (801) 263-8700

Phone: (801) 282-8700