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What You Need to Know about EpiPens and Allergic Reactions

allergic reaction

Hi, it’s Adam from REMSA. As the seasons change, people are heading outdoors and to parties and picnics where the possibilities of encountering some sort of allergen increases. This can be anything from a bee sting to a food allergy. REMSA has received a couple of questions about allergies lately, so I’d like to answer a few of them here.

Question: Should everyone carry an EpiPen?
Answer: No. If you are concerned about symptoms or a reaction you’ve had, you need to see a physician and they will evaluate you, determine your risk for a severe allergic reaction and then, if appropriate, prescribe an EpiPen.

Question: Where’s the best place to store your EpiPen?
Answer: Keep your EpiPen at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. It should not be stored in your car during extremely hot or cold temperatures. If you can keep it on you, that’s ideal. When someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, seconds matter. So, easy access to your properly functioning, non-expired EpiPen should be top priority.

Question: When do you know it’s time to use your EpiPen?
Answer: Signs of a serious allergic reaction manifest differently for everyone. However, generally universal signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing and swallowing, as well as swelling, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and feeling like you might pass out. Those are all serious signs and would indicate the immediate use of your EpiPen.

It’s important to remember that if you have a known allergic reaction and you have been prescribed an EpiPen and you come into contact with that allergen, it is safer for you to err on the side of caution and use your prescribed EpiPen sooner rather than later. Some patients may even require multiple doses. That’s why it’s important to call 9-1-1.

Question: What’s the follow-up care for using an EpiPen?
Answer: If you’ve used an EpiPen, you must call 9-1-1 immediately or visit an emergency room directly.

Question: How will I know if I’m allergic to something?
Answer: If you’ve been exposed to an allergen and you experience a progressive or prolonged reaction or a reaction that interferes with normal body systems such as breathing or swallowing, you may have a serious allergy. You should see your doctor to get a definitive diagnosis.  Not all allergies require the use of an EpiPen; those which are suspected to cause anaphylaxis DO! Only your physician can recommend whether or not an EpiPen is right for you.

Visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology for more information.

Have a safe warm-weather season!

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