EpiPen: Where It All Began

The EpiPen has been the number one prescribed epinephrine auto-injector for 25 years. EpiPen is the brand name of an auto-injector that contains one dose of ephinephrine. This medication is required when someone has a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, a life-threatening response to something that you are allergic to.

Each auto-injector contains one dose that must be injected into the outer thigh. After using the EpiPen, the person with an allergic reaction should go to a hospital emergency room immediately. This is because the person may need further treatment, or in case another allergic reaction occurs.

Available for Children and Adults

EpiPen is made in regular size for adults and in EpiPen Jr for children. Most doctors recommended that it should be used at the start of a life-threatening reaction in which the person has a variety of symptoms that affect the body. These may include itching and swelling of the lips and mouth, tightness or itching of the throat, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, passing out, and a weak pulse. Someone who is having anaphylaxis may also have itching of their skin, hives, redness, and swelling of the skin. Stomach responses can include cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Almost any allergic reaction that is severe can cause anaphylaxis, but food allergies such as peanut allergy, or allergies to tree nuts, fish, shellfish,
eggs and milk are some of the most common. A life-threatening allergic reaction can also occur to people with allergies to medications like penicillin, or to bees, ants, and ticks. It is also possible to have this reaction to exercise, or to exposure to cold, heat, or sunlight.

Many allergists prescribe the EpiPen to be carried with a person at all times if they have one of these allergies that are known to cause anaphylaxis. Children should be taught how to quickly access their EpiPen and how to use it. Also, it is highly recommended that anyone with these allergies should consider wearing a medical bracelet. It can be engraved with where to find the EpiPen, such as in the person's right-hand pocket, in case a rescuer is nearby.

Modeled After a Military Device

The military once used a self-injecting device much like the EpiPen to combat nerve gas and other agents. The EpiPen was created by a former NASA engineer, Shel Kaplan. Kaplan created the ComboPen for the military before creating the EpiPen. In 1980, the EpiPen became available for use by people with food allergies and other allergies that may cause anaphylaxis.

Photo: Pixabay

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