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Kids and Allergies and the EpiPen®

Be Prepared!

Anaphylaxis is unpredictable. When it comes to potentially life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), you need to have a plan for your child. About 150 children and young adults die from food allergies every year in the United States.

Knowing how to use an EpiPen is important. Doctors are seeing more and more children with allergies, especially food allergies. Due to the unpredictable nature of allergic reactions, epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens) are prescribed. EpiPens deliver medicine quickly and effectively. No child has ever had serious problems from a standard dose of epinephrine when using an EpiPen.

Your plan should include avoiding known allergens, recognizing the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, having access to two epinephrine auto-injectors at all times and seeking immediate emergency medical care should anaphylaxis occur.

The EpiPen® Auto-Injector is a disposable, pre-filled automatic injection device that administers epinephrine in the event of a severe allergic reaction.

Remove the EpiPen® Auto-Injector from the carrier tube and follow these 2 simple steps:

  • Hold firmly with orange tip pointing downward.

  • Remove blue safety cap by pulling straight up. (opposite end from the orange tip that holds the needle). Do not bend or twist.

  • Swing and push orange tip firmly into mid-outer thigh until you hear a ‘click’. Through clothes if need be.

  • Hold on thigh for several seconds.

  • Remove the EpiPen. Remove the unit and massage the injection area for 10 seconds.

  • Check the tip. The orange needle cover should automatically cover the injection needle once the EpiPen is removed from the thigh.

0% of acute anaphylaxis episodes are quickly followed by another crisis, called biphasic anaphylaxis. Once you have administered or received the EpiPen, you should be seen by a doctor without delay. The effects of epinephrine can wear off or you could have a second reaction, so call 911, or go to the emergency room right after using EpiPen®. Go to the hospital immediately.

Prepare for possible side effects. When you give a person an EpiPen, it may cause them to feel panicked or paranoid, and can also cause their body to shake uncontrollably. This is NOT a seizure. The shaking will subside over the next few minutes or hours. Don’t freak out; just try to be calm and reassuring. Your calm will help to settle the person.

Do you know the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-lax-is) is the medical term for a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within minutes after exposure to an allergen. That’s why it’s important to know what symptoms to look for:


  • Itching

  • Swelling of lips and/or tongue


  • Shortness of breath

  • Coughing

  • Wheezing


  • Weak pulse

  • Dizziness

  • Passing out

  • Shock


  • Itching

  • Hives

  • Redness

  • Swelling


  • Itching

  • Tightness/closure

  • Coughing


  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Cramps

Why is it important to know these signs and symptoms?

Anaphylaxis is unpredictable—a mild allergic reaction one time can be life-threatening or severe the next. For example, someone who has a peanut allergy may accidentally eat a peanut and feel tingling lips and watery eyes that eventually go away.

However, if the same person is accidentally exposed to a peanut on a different occasion, it could cause difficulty breathing, weak pulse, shortness of breath, fainting and hives that may quickly become life-threatening.

Both are instances of anaphylaxis, but the severity, progression, symptoms and duration of the symptoms are inconsistent and unpredictable.

Food Allergies:

There’s often confusion between peanuts and tree nuts. Peanuts are legumes, not nuts; Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, shea nuts and walnuts. Tree nut allergies are distinct from peanut allergy, as peanuts are legumes, whereas a tree nut is a hard-shelled fruit.

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