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Why is Epipen prescribed?
Epinephrine (Epipen) auto-injector is prescribed for the treatment of severe allergic reactions due to medications, insect bites or stings, food, and other causes.
What does it do?
Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) can be life-threatening. This reaction causes your blood pressure to abruptly drop and narrows your airways, making it difficult to breathe.
Epinephrine is classified as an alpha and beta-adrenergic agonist that works by narrowing your blood vessels to increase blood pressure. It also acts to relax your airways for you to breathe normally.
How should I use it?
Epipen comes in an auto-injector device available as 0.3mg and 0.15mg preparations.
Epipen is administered by injecting into the skin or muscle of your outer thigh. This is usually done when you first notice signs of a serious allergic reaction such as the closing of your airways, wheezing, hives, itching, fast heartbeat, and a weak pulse. Do not administer Epipen in other areas of your body.
Administer Epipen exactly as your doctor instructed. Do not inject it more frequently or less frequently than your doctor prescribed.
Before using Epipen, read and follow the instructions for use that comes with the medication. You may ask your doctor or pharmacist to show you or your caregiver how to use Epipen and to clarify any instructions you do not understand.
Do not remove the safety cap unless you will administer a dose. Do not put your fingers over the needle area or injector tip when the safety cap has been removed. If you accidentally inject it into your fingers, seek immediate medical attention.
To use Epipen auto-injector:
- Form a fist around the auto-injector and point the top down. Take off the safety cap.
- Place the tip against the fleshy portion of the outer thigh. Epipen can be given directly through clothing. If you are giving Epipen to a child or infant, hold their leg firmly.
- Quickly push the auto-injector firmly against the thigh to release the needle that administers the dose of epinephrine. Hold it in place for 10 seconds after activation.
- Remove the auto-injector from the thigh and re-insert the used device needle-first into the carrying tube. Put back the cap and bring it to the emergency room so the medical staff will know the amount of epinephrine you have received.
After using Epipen, always seek emergency medical attention for further assessment and treatment.
Use the auto-injector once only and dispose of it properly. Ask your pharmacist about the proper disposal of Epipen. Do not reinsert the auto-injector for a second time even if there is some solution left in the device.
Do not use Epipen if particles are present, if there is discoloration of the solution, and if it is expired. Always get a new prescription from your doctor in these cases.
What if I missed a dose?
Taking the dose properly at the scheduled time is needed to attain the desired effect of the drug. If you forgot to take your medicine, immediately take the next dose to make up for the missed dose. However, if it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and catch the next dose at the regular time.Do not take two doses just to make up for your missed dose.
What are the special precautions before taking Epipen?
Inform your doctor if you have had heart disease or high blood pressure, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, adrenal gland tumors (Pheochromocytoma), depression or mental illness, a thyroid disorder, or diabetes.
Inform your doctor if you are allergic to Epinephrine, any component of Epipen, or other medications. However, since Epinephrine is a life-saving drug, your doctor may still administer it even if you are allergic to the components.
For the drug label information of Epipen, click here.
Does it have any side effects?
Epinephrine may cause side effects. When getting medical treatment after injecting Epinephrine, tell your doctor if you have the following side effects:
- Common side effects may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fast heartbeats
- Pale skin
- Serious side effects may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Redness and swelling at the injection site
- Uncontrollable shaking of a body part
Is it safe to use it with another drug?
Some drug interactions may cause serious or life-threatening reactions when administered together. Immediately inform your doctor if you are using Epipen with any of the following medications:
Tell your doctor of any prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbal products you are taking to prevent interactions with these medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for other possible interactions not listed within this section.
How should I store it?
Store Epipen at room temperature (20-25 °C) in a clean environment away from light and moisture. Do not expose it to extreme temperatures like in the refrigerator or in your car’s glove box. Keep out of reach from children and pets. Throw away unused or expired medications properly. Consult your pharmacist on the proper disposal of this medication.
Inspect the contents of Epipen periodically. The solution should be clear. If there is discoloration or solid particles are present, have it replaced.
What action should I take in case of overdose?
Some symptoms of overdose may include the following:
In the event of an overdose, inform your doctor or seek immediate medical attention to avoid further complications.
Is it safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women?
There are limited studies and data regarding the safety of Epinephrine in pregnant women. However, Epinephrine is the first-line drug for treating severe allergic reactions even during pregnancy and you may need to use it in the event of an allergic reaction.
The presence of Epinephrine in human milk is still unknown and the effect it has on breastfed infants has not been determined.
Having a severe allergic reaction during pregnancy and while breastfeeding may potentially cause harm to the mother and the baby. You may need to use Epinephrine in these instances. Seek immediate medical attention after administering Epinephrine for further treatment and monitoring.
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