Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially deadly allergic reaction that can occur from bee stings, food and many other products. Epinephrine, which is most commonly given using an EpiPen, is a common initial treatment for anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially deadly allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds to minutes of exposure.
In adults, medicines are one of the leading causes of severe allergic reactions. Food is a leading cause in children, including shellfish, nuts, milk, eggs and some fruits.
Other common triggers in adults and children include insect stings and bites and latex.
“During a severe allergic reaction, the body’s immune system releases chemical in response to the allergen,” said Sophie Grupe, family medicine physician assistant with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “These chemicals can cause a drop in blood pressure and tightening of the airways, which are life-threatening.”
Other signs and symptoms include a rapid, weak pulse, skin rash, nausea and vomiting.
The first step in severe allergic reactions is to immediately administer epinephrine (adrenaline). The most common way it’s given in an emergent situation is through an EpiPen.
“The medication helps to combat these scary symptoms by working to constrict the blood vessels, which brings the blood pressure back up to a normal level and relax the airways, which allows the person to breathe easier,” Grupe said. “The EpiPen is administered into the muscle, typically the outer thigh.”
After using your EpiPen, you must seek medical attention.
“You may need more than one dose of epinephrine or other medical treatments. It’s necessary to be evaluated by a medical provider. Call 911 or go to the closest emergency department immediately,” Grupe said.
Using your EpiPen
Using an EpiPen immediately after signs of a severe reaction can keep anaphylaxis from worsening and could save your life. It’s vital you and those closest to you know how to use it properly.