The Importance of EpiPens
By Roy Lewis, MD, Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Associates
If you know someone with an allergy, chances are they’ve talked about needing an EpiPen. But what is an EpiPen and what does it do?
What is an EpiPen?
EpiPen is actually the brand name for a device that automatically injects epinephrine into someone having a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Epinephrine narrows the blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs, reversing severely low blood pressure, wheezing, hives and other symptoms. EpiPens are available in both adult and children’s doses.
Epinephrine is the first and most important treatment for anaphylaxis. While most commonly used for food or bee sting allergies, they can be used for any allergic reaction.
Auvi-Q is another brand name of auto-injectable epinephrine. Auvi-Q and EpiPens are not a substitute for medical treatment. If you have to use an EpiPen or Auvi-Q, seek medical attention afterward. Some patients with anaphylaxis will require more than one dose of epinephrine to resolve their reaction.
Auvi-Q and EpiPen Side Effects
Some side effects associated with epinephrine use include breathing troubles or severely high blood pressure. You may also experience an accelerated heartbeat, nausea, dizziness, tremors, or a headache. Some other medicines will affect an EpiPen, too. Discuss your other medications with your doctor before using an Auvi-Q or EpiPen.
Auvi-Q, EpiPens and Immunotherapy
Some patients with severe allergies receive immunotherapy. This is a regular series of treatments where patients are given gradually-increasing doses to increase their tolerance to allergens. In these cases, it is important for patients to have an Auvi-Q or EpiPen available.
Severe allergic reactions can be scary, and epinephrine injectors can be a good first treatment before receiving medical attention. But it’s important to remember that they’re not a replacement for proper medical care. Make sure you regularly discuss your allergy issues with your doctor and seek medical treatment when you need it.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Lewis sees patients in CEENTA’s Mooresville office. To make an appointment with him or any of CEENTA’s ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000.
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