What Are Epinephrine Auto Injectors?

Chances are, if you have allergies, you've heard of Epinephrine. It's used in auto injectors which are administered when somebody is having a life threatening allergic reaction, most commonly anaphylaxis. The most popular brand of epinephrine auto injector is the EpiPen.

Luckily for me, my breathing is rarely affected by my allergens. Benzoic acid seems to be the only one that really sets me off in that direction, but my throat has never fully closed up.  I've had a couple other random run-ins like this one, but again... I was still able to breathe the whole time even though it was difficult. I should still get an auto injector, though, because those symptoms could quickly turn severe.

So, what is epinephrine?

“Epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline, is a hormone secreted by the medulla of the adrenal glands. Strong emotions such as fear or anger cause epinephrine to be released into the bloodstream, which causes an increase in heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure, and sugar metabolism. This reaction, known as the “Flight or Fight Response” prepares the body for strenuous activity.”
— University of Delaware

This same hormone is life-saving when it comes to:

  • anaphylactic shock
  • cardiac arrest
  • asthma attacks

Epinephrine auto injectors are easy to use, portable and make it possible to inject epinephrine quickly without having to use a normal syringe.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, these severe symptoms indicate that an epinephrine auto injector should be used:

  • shortness of breath
  • repetitive coughing
  • weak pulse
  • generalized hives
  • tightness in the throat
  • trouble breathing/swallowing
  • combination of symptoms from different body areas such as hives, rashes, or swelling on the skin coupled with vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain

With Thanksgiving around the corner, food allergies may be amiss whether it's yours or somebody else's at Thanksgiving dinner.

Knowing how to administer an epinephrine auto injector is key.

I've gathered up an interesting handful of videos for you watch - which covers a lot of info including:

  • When to use an epinephrine auto injector
  • How to use an epinephrine auto injector
  • What NOT to do
  • Advice from a doctor
  • A parent's personal experience of administering for the first time
  • A girl's experience of injecting herself (explicit language)

Make sure to check out this super awesome Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan from F.A.R.E as well! It also gives more specific instructions on how to use the various brands.

Have you administered an epinephrine auto injector?

What was the experience like?

sources: University of DelawareACAAI, US National Library of Medicine