- Side Effects
- Information leaflet
What is EpiPen
EpiPen is an adrenaline auto-injector (AAI) designed for the emergency treatment of the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Although some allergic reactions can be simply uncomfortable or unsightly as a result of mild swelling or a rash, anaphylactic shock can be far more severe. It occurs when your immune system overreacts to an innocuous substance such as food or medication but it can also happen as a result of insect stings, exercise or exposure to latex.
The symptoms of anaphylactic shock include breathing difficulties, swelling of the tongue, mouth or throat, wheezing, and collapse and unconsciousness. It can happen anywhere up to an hour or two after coming into contact with an allergen though generally, anaphylaxis will develop very suddenly and rapidly, making it life-threatening. The EpiPen administers a dose of epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, to control symptoms of shock and get the sufferer out of harm’s way.
Can I buy Epipen online?
EpiPens can be bought online in packs of either 1 or 2 pens. You will be required to complete an assessment as part of a free and confidential appointment with one of the Click Pharmacy doctors. This ensures that an Epipen is right for your medical situation and upon completion, you will be prescribed the EpiPen after which you can purchase your medication.
Why choose EpiPen?
When faced with anaphylactic shock, every second matters so acting without hesitation is vital. If you have experienced an episode in the past, you may have been prescribed an auto-injector in case of future attacks. An immediate first-line treatment, the device is pre-filled with the adrenaline required to treat a shock. Conveniently, the medicine can be self-injected or injected by a carer and should take effect immediately. This means that you do not have to wait for an ambulance to arrive to treat the problem however, it is advisable to call the emergency services whenever anaphylactic shock strikes.
What dose should I choose?
The ideal dose of adrenaline depends on your body weight however 0.5 mg is the maximum dose for an adult and 0.3 mg is the maximum dose for a child. This will be discussed with you during your consultation with one of our doctors.
How should I take EpiPen?
Adrenalin is supplied in a pen-shaped applicator with an enclosed needle. To administer the epinephrine, the EpiPen should be jabbed into your mid-outer thigh muscle, through clothes if necessary, until it clicks. It should be held in place here for a slow count to 3. Continue to hold the pen in place for 3 further seconds to ensure the full dose is delivered and once the auto-injector is removed, the injected area should be massaged for at least 10 seconds. For more detailed instructions on how to take this medicine, follow the guidelines that come with your device.
After a more severe allergic reaction, it may be necessary for a patient to be administered with more than one shot of epinephrine, five to fifteen minutes after the first. As such, if you have been prescribed the use of an EpiPen it is often advised that you ensure you have access to two pens for such an occurrence.
How does EpiPen work?
When you experience anaphylactic shock the chemicals which flood into your system in response to the allergen causes the blood pressure to drop and the airways to narrow which can block your ability to breathe. The adrenalin administered via the EpiPen works to counteract this potentially fatal reaction by first constricting blood vessels to reduce swelling and increase blood pressure. It also relaxes the lungs and throat making it easier to breathe and finally, it stops any further release of chemicals causing the reaction to help stop the reaction from continuing.
Can you use EpiPen while pregnant?
According to EpiPen manufacturers, epinephrine should be administered only in a situation when not doing so could cause more damage to the mother and baby than doing so. There is limited research in this area but since anaphylactic shock is very dangerous for the unborn baby, and if you have previously been prescribed an EpiPen, then it is important to continue to keep one to hand for extreme situations. If the EpiPen is needed during pregnancy then medical attention should be sought immediately before or after use.
Speak to your GP or book a free and confidential appointment with one of the doctors at Click Pharmacy to discuss any concerns you may have.
How to store Epipen?
So as to ensure you receive the full benefit of your epinephrine upon administration it is crucial your EpiPen is stored correctly. The following are recommendations as to how to optimally store your medication:
- do not refrigerate and store at room temperature
- keep away from sunlight
- do not store in a car during hot or cold weather
- keep the EpiPen in its carrier tube
- keep away from water
What are the side effects of EpiPen?
Aside from the desired effects of administering epinephrine to a patient suffering from anaphylactic shock, there can also be a number of unwanted side effects.
Within five to 10 minutes of taking this medication, you may experience one or more of the following:
heart palpitations, dizziness, anxiety, tremors, headache, cold skin, decreased touch sensation, heavy chest, blurred vision, sweating, tiredness, pounding in the ears, vomiting or nausea.
Most drugs have some kind of side effect and though uncommon it is necessary to be aware of the potential to experience these types of issues so that you know what to do if they occur. If you experience any of the above and/or any other kind of issue as a result of the EpiPen, it is important not to panic as these side effects usually pass quickly with rest. If the side effect is more extreme then let a medical professional know right away by calling 999 and if you are with someone, let them know you are experiencing issues.
Side effects can last longer in patients with high blood pressure and thyroid conditions so use an EpiPen with caution in these situations.
If you are concerned about possible side effects, consult your doctor for advice or get in touch with one of our healthcare professionals at Click Pharmacy.
Can children use an EpiPen?
Anyone weighing more than 25kg should use an EpiPen 0.3mg. For children weighing between 7.5kg to 25kg, EpiPen Jr 0.15mg is recommended.
What is the difference between EpiPen and EpiPen Jr?
EpiPen Jr is formulated for young children weighing less than 25kg. Any child weighing above 25kg should use an EpiPen.
When should I inject an EpiPen?
An EpiPen should be injected at the first sign of any known or suspected severe allergic reaction to prevent life threatening issues.
Who should inject an EpiPen?
They should be used by the person experiencing the allergic reaction, or by someone else helping.
How long should I hold the EpiPen in place for?
In order to rightly deliver your dose, EpiPen should be firmly held in place for 3 seconds.
How should I inject my EpiPen?
Place the orange tip perpendicular to the outer thigh, push the auto-injector until you hear a click, the click signals activation of the EpiPen
What if I use an EpiPen when I don’t need to?
In the worst case scenario it can potentially disrupt blood flow and result in tissue death. However symptoms are not usually too severe and only result in a short term numbness where the EpiPen has been injected.
Can I use an EpiPen if I am pregnant?
An EpiPen should be used in case of any severe allergic reaction.
Can I inject an EpiPen through my clothes?
Yes, if necessary.
What should I do if I accidentally open the safety cap?
Opening the blue safety cap signals for activation of the EpiPen, therefore it should be discarded.
If for some reason the EpiPen has not been activated, even after removing the safety cap, the needle can be gently placed back into its carrier tube and securely fastened using the blue safety cap.
Where do I store an EpiPen?
Store your EpiPen in a safe place at room temperature. Your EpiPen should not be exposed to extreme heat or coldness.
What should I do if the liquid in my EpiPen begins to discolour?
The liquid in your EpiPen should always be clear and colourless. Immediately replace your EpiPen if you see any signs of:
- Discoloured liquid
- Damage or leakage
- Solid precipitate
Can I use an EpiPen if I have a sulphite allergy?
During a severe allergic reaction, the presence of any sulphite should not prevent you from injecting an EpiPen.
How do I dispose of an EpiPen?
Expired EpiPens should be disposed of safely in an appropriate bin.
After injecting an EpiPen immediately seek medical assistance, and give any used EpiPen to medical assistants.
What should I do if there is an air bubble in my EpiPen?
The air bubble is a gas known as nitrogen. It is completely normal for bubbles like these to appear, they do not interfere with the primary use of the EpiPen
Can I travel with my EpiPen?
It is vital to always have your EpiPen with you when travelling.
Airlines often require you to previously provide a letter of notice, if you are expected to be carrying an EpiPen with you.
Injecting an EpiPen can result in several side effects. These side effects commonly include:
- An increased heart rate
- Pale skin
In case of a medical emergency, side effects should not prevent you from using an EpiPen. If any side effects worsen, seek medical assistance.
Authored by Jana Abelovska
Last reviewed 20 April 2021
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