EpiPen is commonly administered to help decrease your body’s reaction to allergens by relaxing the muscles in your airways and stomach and reversing the rapid decrease in blood pressure.

This medication is familiar thanks to its ease of use and availability in prefilled dosages; hence, it is a lifesaver in emergencies.

This is a device or an auto-injector that contains epinephrine. This medication treats Anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal body allergic reaction resulting from allergens like insect stings and bites, drugs, and certain foods.

EpiPen comes prefilled with a fixed dose of epinephrine. Your healthcare provider will determine the correct dose for you, depending on your weight and the severity of your allergy.

It is prescribed to cure and manage severe allergic reactions. The tool is user-friendly and can be used by any adult or caregiver to administer a fixed dose of epinephrine during an emergency, making it a lifesaver.

Although this medication is crucial in emergencies, not everyone can use it. Please consult your doctor to make sure it fits your needs correctly. Using it correctly reduces the risk of side effects significantly.

How Does EpiPen Work?

  • Relaxes Airways Muscles for Easy Breathing: Epinephrine acts on specific lung receptors. This helps to relax the muscles in the airways and widen the air passage, making breathing easier.
  • Reverses the Rapid Decrease in Blood Pressure: EpiPen causes constriction on the blood vessels, curbing vasodilation, which is the widening of the blood vessels during an allergic reaction.
  • Relaxes Stomach, Intestines, and Bladder Muscles: The active ingredient, epinephrine, present in EpiPen has a relaxant effect on the smooth muscles of the stomach and intestines, which helps to alleviate such symptoms as cramping.

EpiPen Precautions and Warnings

  • Seek Medical attention: Immediately inform your doctor if you develop symptoms of infection around the injection site, e.g., tenderness, swelling, severe itching, or blistering.
  • Allergic Reaction: Let your doctor know if you’re allergic to EpiPen, its ingredients, e.g., sulfites, or if you have any other allergies.
  • Chronic Conditions: People having chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart conditions should only use EpiPen after discussing their condition with a medical practitioner.
  • Storage: An EpiPen should always be stored in a cool and dry place or at room temperature.
  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: There’s no adequate research that indicates the risks of EpiPen to an infant or mother during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Still, it would be best to weigh the risks and benefits with your doctor before proceeding.
  • Age-Related Risks: There’s an increased sensitivity to EpiPen’s side effects among older people, particularly the rapid increase in blood pressure. So, only use it under the guidance of a doctor.
  • Do Not Operate Machines or Drive While taking this Drug: EpiPen can make you dizzy. Avoid indulging in activities that require your utmost alertness while using this drug, such as driving.
  • Observe Proper Usage: Healthcare practitioners advise that one should never inject two EpiPen injections concurrently. Too much of it causes dangerous levels of blood pressure, stroke, and even death.

EpiPen Side Effects

One safety measure of using EpiPen is understanding its side effects and what to do when you experience them. While some common side effects might disappear independently, severe effects may require stopping the medication and seeking immediate medical attention.

Common Side Effects

These side effects occur when your body is adjusting to the drug. Mostly, they are temporary and will subside on their own over time.

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Nervousness or restlessness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Serious Side Effects

You should monitor and take care of these side effects immediately. Seek medication if you experience:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Severe headache
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Signs of an allergic reaction (hives, itching, swelling, severe dizziness)

Injection Site Reactions

Injury site reactions usually occur around the area of the injection. These reactions are generally mild, and they resolve independently with time. If they persist, consult a physician.

They are typically characterized by:

  • Pain at the site of the injection
  • Redness or a rash in the area
  • Swelling at the injection site

EpiPen Drug Interactions

Epinephrine, the active ingredient in EpiPen, can interact with certain drugs when taken concurrently. Before using EpiPen, patients should speak with their healthcare providers about all their medications.

Several drugs interact with EpiPen, but here are the everyday EpiPen drug interactions to look out for and their effects.

DrugsInteractions with EpiPen
Tricyclic Antidepressants (such as Norpramin) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (such as Parnate)These drugs could intensify the effects of Epinephrine.
DigoxinTaking Digoxin with Epinephrine can alter heart rhythm and increase the risk of blood pressure.
Anti-arrhythmic drugsThis interaction could result in an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular arrhythmia, which requires immediate medication.
Alpha-Adrenergic Blockers like phentolamineThey antagonize the effects of vasoconstriction and hypertensive effects of epinephrine.

What are the Strengths and Dosages?

EpiPen is injected intramuscularly or subcutaneously into your thigh while ensuring your thigh stays in a firm position without any movement. Avoid injecting intravenously into your hands, buttocks, feet, or digits.

One dose of EpiPen should be enough to make you feel better. But in severe allergies where you do not feel better, doctors recommend a second injection, typically given 5-15 after the first one. Never administer two doses right after each other to avoid excess epinephrine, which can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels and even cause death.

Before using an EpiPen, it is essential to check the device’s expiration date and inspect for discoloration and visible particles.

EpiPen comes in two dosage strengths, depending on your weight, namely:

  • EpiPen®: For adults and children weighing at least 30kg (66 lb.)
  • EpiPen Jr®: Ideal for children who weigh between 15kg (33 lb.) and 30kg (66 lb.)
Patient WeightEpinephrine ConcentrationAuto-Injector
≥30 kg (≥66 pounds)0.3 mg (0.3 mL)EpiPen Auto-Injector

(Epinephrine Injection, USP) Auto-Injector 0.3 mg

15-30 kg (33-66 pounds)0.15 mg (0.3

mL)

EpiPen JR  Auto-Injector

(Epinephrine Injection, USP) Auto-Injector 0.15 mg

Cost of EpiPen in America

An EpiPen or EpiPen Jr. package containing two auto-injectors of 0.3 mg will cost roughly $650 to $700 when you pay in cash.

EpiPen also has authorized generic versions, which are considerably cheaper. The Generic epinephrine auto-injector with two packs may range from $150 to $400, saving you hundreds of dollars.

Another effective alternative drug to EpiPen is the nasal spray Neffy (delivers a dose of epinephrine through the nasal cavity instead of an intramuscular injection.)

FAQs of EpiPen

When should I inject EpiPen?

Immediately inject EpiPen when you notice the first signs of a severe allergic reaction or if you come into contact with a known allergen.

Can I use an expired EpiPen?

No. It is dangerous and even fatal to use an expired EpiPen.

What should I do after using an EpiPen?

It is advised that after using an EpiPen, one should call for help or see a doctor.

Why should I swing my arm to inject?

Swinging your hand helps to provide enough energy to deliver an intramuscular injection.

Can I inject EpiPen through my clothes?

Yes. EpiPen can be injected through clothing. However, ensuring the orange part does not hit the buckles or zips on your clothes would be best.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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