About the use of an Epi-pen – mightier than the sword?

My child has been diagnosed with severe allergic reactions to a number of foods including peanuts. We were told that we must keep something called an “Epi-Pen” on hand at all times in case she has a sudden reaction. What does this device do exactly and will it “cure” the reaction or just buy us some time to get her to medical attention like an emergency room?
Epi-pens are commonly prescribed to patients with a history of serious allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis.  With anaphylaxis, patients may have trouble breathing, swelling, rash, dizziness, and it can get rapidly worse, and in some cases be fatal.  These reactions usually occur after a patient is exposed to something they are allergic to, such as a bee sting, certain foods such as peanuts, or latex.  ER doctors often prescribe the “Epi-pen” after seeing patients with anaphylaxis, because it is a very effective way to reduce these symptoms and allow patients time to get in to see a doctor or come to the emergency room.
The Epi-pen is given by the patient to themsevles, as a shot, and it releases a medicine called epinephrine.  This decreases the allergic reaction, but beware, epinephrine does not “cure” it.  The allergic reaction can come back after the epinephrine wears off.  Therefore, it is important to seek medical care immediately with any serious allergic reaction, even if you have used an Epi-pen.
Allergy doctors prescribe quite a few Epi-pens, because they have been shown to reduce the chance of death from anaphylaxis, and it’s important to have these readily available, especially when immediate medical attention may be difficult to obtain.  Anyone with a history of serious allergic reactions should see their primary physician as well, and consider follow up with an allergy specialist.
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • HealthRanker
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • Print this article!

{ 2 trackbacks }

10.20.08 at 6:32 pm
Peanut and Food Allergies and Halloween in the ER | Your ER Doc
10.30.08 at 9:54 am

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Davies 10.20.08 at 5:29 pm

AS a teacher, I have had kids with peanut allergies in my class. Depending on the severity of the kid’s condition, we devise a medical plan for the child with the help of the school nurse. The kid keeps an epi pen in the classroom (or in a fanny pack on themselves for PE and recess times), as well as the office. Everyone on campus is notified of who the kid is and who the designated epi pen people are. Hope this helps from a teacher point of view! :)

Elyse 10.20.08 at 7:18 pm

Having an allergic reaction is seriously the scariest thing I have had to endure. It is not a joking manner and is serious. My Epi pen has saved me life not once but twice.

Take an allergy seriously and be prepared.

admin 10.20.08 at 7:36 pm

Thank you for the comments. I appreciate hearing both points of view very much!

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>