Who’s Afraid of Epinephrine?
We sometimes hear from teens who are afraid to administer the epinephrine auto-injector to themselves (or others) during a reaction. Fear of the unknown is normal; however, you cannot let it stop you from properly treating a reaction. This article will help ease your fears. Be sure to share this information with your friends!
Know the Facts
Some teens tell us they've heard the needle in an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen® or Twinject™) is thick and several inches long. Actually, the needle is small, about 1/2 inch or so. People who have used an epinephrine auto-injector report that the injection isn't very painful, and that the shot helped give immediate relief of the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Practice, Practice, Practice
An auto-injector trainer, which contains neither the medicine nor a needle, is a great tool for practicing how to use the auto-injector. The more you practice giving an injection, the easier it will be to do so in an emergency. You may also want to encourage others (e.g., family members, friends, school staff) to practice.
Trainers are available for both EpiPen® and Twinject™ auto-injectors. Contact FAAN to order one.
Satisfy Your Curiosity
Instead of throwing away an expired auto-injector, inject it into an orange or a grapefruit. Individuals who have administered the EpiPen® or Twinject™, and have also practiced on fruit, say that it gave them a good idea of the amount of pressure they need to use to activate an auto-injector.
Once you've fired the auto-injector, place the used unit, needle first, into the carrying tube. Take the unit to the hospital or to your doctor's office for disposal.
Studies have shown that a delay in receiving epinephrine is most often the cause of fatal anaphylaxis. If you are worried that you won't know when to administer medication, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you work through your fear and give you some examples of when it would be necessary for you to use epinephrine. Those specific guidelines and suggestions can be incorporated into your Food Allergy Action Plan.