What do you carry to treat your peanut allergy symptoms? Epinephrine is commonly used to treat anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction to peanuts or other allergens. While most people who know they have a serious allergy carry an epinephrine auto-injector, a pen-shaped device containing a dose of epinephrine, inhalers may also be an option. Over-the-counter epinephrine inhalers, sold as Primatene Mist, have been available for decades for those with allergies or asthma.
One of the benefits of over-the-counter inhalers is that they tend to be a more affordable and accessible choice for those without medical insurance. In addition, these devices may be carried by those who are concerned about their ability to give themselves an injection while experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
However, there are some significant downsides to this method of delivering epinephrine medication. One of the reasons peanut allergy sufferers need epinephrine is that they have difficulty breathing during an allergic reaction. Epinephrine opens up the airways in the lungs, but an inhaled product may be difficult to use during the reaction. In addition, because allergic reactions involve multiple systems, it is more effective for the epinephrine to be delivered to the whole body via an injection, not just into the lungs.
Finally, over-the-counter epinephrine inhalers also contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), an ozone-depleting chemical. As a result, epinephrine inhalers will be phased out by the end of 2011. If you currently carry an epinephrine inhaler for the treatment of your allergy, now is the time to talk with your doctor about other types of epinephrine medications.
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