When and How to Administer an EpiPen
By Leanne Shelton
Food allergies in children are becoming increasingly more common. Most schools have peanut free tables in the cafeteria. And when you send in a snack for a party, it usually has some sort of ingredient restrictions. I would bet that we can all name at least one person we know that has a serious food allergy.
With this increase in allergies comes an increase in the need and use of EpiPens. An EpiPen is the device brand name for an epinephrine auto-injector. It is a life-saving device for people who suffer life-threatening allergies. It injects the drug epinephrine, which stops the allergic reaction and helps to save the life.
With how common these allergies are becoming, it is a good idea for for everyone to know when and how to use an EpiPen.
If a person is having an allergic reaction, there are both severe and mild symptoms that may present. Severe symptoms can include, but are not limited to, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, pale/bluish skin, faintness/dizziness, weak pulse, tight throat, difficulty breathing/swallowing, swelling of tongue or lips, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, feeling of doom, anxiety, and confusion. If a person is having ANY of these symptoms or more than one of these symptoms, give them the EpiPen shot and call 911 immediately.
Mild symptoms may present as itchy nose, itchy mouth, runny nose, sneezing, a few hives, mild skin itching, mild nausea, mild discomfort in abdomen. If the person has symptoms in only one system area, such as nose, mouth, skin, gut, monitor the person, give antihistamines, and let the emergency contacts know what is going on. If mild symptoms present in more than one system area or if the symptoms get worse, give the EpiPen shot and call 911.
If there is any question, always contact an emergency contact or health care provider. It is always better to give the EpiPen when in doubt than not give it. It’s worse to withhold epinephrine for someone who needs it than to give a dose to someone who doesn’t.
To use an Epipen, sit the person down. Hold the device in the middle and point the blue end up and the orange end down. Remember – blue to the sky, orange to the thigh.
Remove the blue safety cap. Pull straight up without bending or twisting. Place the orange tip against the middle of the outer thigh. Do not worry about removing clothing. The needle is designed to go right through clothing.
Swing and push the injector firmly into the thigh until it clicks. Hold in place for 3 seconds, counting slowly. Remove from the thigh. The orange cover will automatically cover the needle so it is never exposed. Massage the area for 10 seconds.
To learn from an instructor and practice how to give epinephrine to someone, register for a CPR and First Aid class by Shoen Safety. Upon completion of the course, you will be American Red Cross CPR and First Aid certified and confident that you will know how to respond in an emergency situation. It is a wise investment worthy of your time! There are a lot of options to fit your schedule. For more information, visit https://shoensafety.com/events/.