Afraid to use Epi-Pen

Posted on: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 4:02pm
gufyduck's picture
Joined: 10/21/2007 - 22:52

I don't have an allergy to peanuts, however, this message board is the closest I could find, so I hope no one minds me posting here. I have anaphylatic reactions to shell fish and I am starting to question if I am allergic to some tree nuts as well.

I was wondering if anyone could share what it is like to use an Epi-Pen. Last night I know I started to have an anaphylatic reaction, but could not get the courage to inject myself. I took 100 mg of Benedryl, and tried to wait it out. At the worst point, my mouth was itching like crazy, I was coughing, starting to wheeze, was feeling dizzy and light headed, felt like there was a lot of mucus in my throat and was loosing my voice. Looking back, I know I should have done it, but was too freaked out.

What is it like to use an epi-pen? I'm hoping that next time this happens, knowing what to expect will help me use it.

Posted on: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 11:29pm
doofusclo's picture
Joined: 12/03/2006 - 09:00

I cannot tell you but if no one replies fast enough you can look for an old thread that contains that information. I can tell you people have talked about it before on the board.

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:51am
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

My son is 22 and has used his epi pen a number of times. Yes it hurts (just the needle part.) and yes it is fast and yes holding it in for 10 seconds is tough...... BUT he does this because he knows it is a life saver for him.
You cannot take 100 mg of Benadryl and go unseen at a hospital. That is very dangerous. You must use the epi pen. 100mg is too much to use without medical supervision.
When I taught my son how to self inject (I'm a nurse) I did not do swing and jab. It sounded too violent and too haphazard for me and I knew it would scare him.
I taught him to hold the epi pen exactly on the side of his leg where he wanted it to be injected. Push, hear the click, feel the needle, count to 10 and then call 911.
You cannot let a reaction like you described go untreated because it could last for days. It is frequently not over when it is over. You can have a secondary reaction hours later, even days.
My son reports he does not feel the reaction "stop in it's tracks" after using the epi. But he does feel the reaction NOT PROGRESS to much worse. And that is what the epi is. It gives you enough time to get to medical help so they can manage the REST of the reaction to come. The epi pen is not all you do. You go to help and GET HELP.
After using the epi pen you might feel your heart beat faster, your hands and toes might get cold and you might become a bit shaky. All of those things are signs the adrenalin is doing it's job. They are good signs and they go away fast enough.
Every time we have gone to the ER we have used the words [b]Peanuts, Epi Pen and Anaphylaxis.[/b] That gets the doors opened and gets us in. We have not called 911 but every single reaction my son has had has been IMMEDIATELY treated. No wait and see.
So my advice is become familiar with the epi pen. Go over an emergency protocol. Epi pen, benadryl and 911. Call 911 UNLESS you happen to be in the parking lot of an ER. Use those words and they will take you seriously.
More people DIE while "waiting and seeing." More kids die while some adult is convincing them to wait and see.
Do not become a statistic.

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:57am
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

Have you tried FAAN? [url=""][/url]
They might be able to direct you towards a message board more specific to your allergy. But any board is better than NO board. FAAN will also have lots of educational materials for you to read.

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:29pm
gufyduck's picture
Joined: 10/21/2007 - 22:52

I know I should have used the epi. I had it out of its case, read the directions, but just froze when it came to actually doing it. I was searching online, and found where you can order a free epi-pen trainer, so I have ordered one of those to practice with. I really wish they made trainers with saline and needles, just to get over the fear of giving myself a shot. I know I got to the point where I was ready to do it, and decided to do it after taking my inhaler. At that point i noticed my tongue was starting to feel better, so I waited some more, hoping the worst was over. If it did get worse, i would have gotten a ride to the ER (less than 5 minutes away).
I was told by a friend over in England that the European Union has approved benedryl for up to 100 mg for adults, which is why i took that dose.
Thanks for sharing what to expect. I have no clue why I'm so freaked out. I can usually tough out anything, and do what is necessary. I understand what is happening to my body, but jamming an epi-pen into my leg just freaks me out.

Posted on: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:36am
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

Take that word JAM out of the equation and you'll feel better about it. And you cannot tough out anaphylaxis. It's too big.
I imagine it is pretty scary but you can't let it go on for too long.
Good luck

Posted on: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 10:23am
gufyduck's picture
Joined: 10/21/2007 - 22:52

Thankfully, the three reactions I have had have all progressed slow enough that when I am taking benedryl, my tongue is only starting to itch, before any other symptoms can start. Then usually it builds slowly for about 30-45 minutes, until I am at my worst. Even the first time when I went to the hospital, I had taken benedryl quickly enough and they were happy enough with my blood pressure, pulse, and pulse ox, that they did not give me any epi. And that time, I know i was beyond dizzy, having trouble walking, my face was white as a sheet of paper (what scared me the most), throat and tongue were swollen, plus asthma symptoms. I think that may be why I am more willing to treat it with benedryl and try to wait. However, I also know the quality of care this hospital is notorious for. Great for orthopedic injuries, but anything else it is a gamble. I remember when I first was taken there for an asthma attack, my mom had to BEG the doctor to give me a breathing treatment, because they tried to say it was all anxiety. After the neb, I was breathing 100% better, and the doctor said, oh, i guess it was an asthma attack. I use that hospital only when necessary and as a last resort, unfortunately, it is the only hospital within 45 -60 minutes of my house

Posted on: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:51pm
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

I'm sorry to be beating this message home but any reaction can turn deadly in a matter of seconds. Generally they do not follow a predictable route. So be careful. Your face was white and you were dizzy because you were probably shocky, your blood pressure falling. be careful.

Posted on: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 1:44pm
gufyduck's picture
Joined: 10/21/2007 - 22:52

I don't feel like you are beating the message to the ground at all. I really appreciate all your advice. From your posts and others on the board, I have really learned a lot. I know I have done stupid things. I know I need to be prepared to give myself epi when needed. If there is a next time (which at this rate, I have a feeling there will be) I plan to do two practice ones with a trainer, then do the real one. Just to try to keep me calm. I also will be making the decision to use the epi sooner, to avoid the added anxiety.
I am also seriously considering going through allergy testing again. The likely hood of a salad being cross contaminated with shell fish is so small, that I think there is something else. I know during my second reaction (this was my third) I blamed it on cross contamination, which was very possible because I was living with my parents while student teaching, and my mom loves her shrimp. However, i also ate a hand full of almonds that morning. Thankfully, I know a doctor who treats allergies (he is a ENT) from working whit his son, and his judgment seems pretty sound from when I have worked with him. So at least I do not need to do the doctor hunt.
Thanks again for all your advice!

Posted on: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 3:39pm
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

Thanks for understanding. I meant to tell you. My neighbor is allergic to aspirin and took Advil one day and began an anaphylactic reaction. She called me.
I came there and called 911 (she was freaked out and her teenage kids were crying) and I put her epi pen in her hands. She said "you do it." And I said "sorry you need to do this yourself."
I talked her through it and she did fine. She was really angry at me though. I said the usual stuff. I can't always be here when you have a reaction blah blah blah.
She did fine and hopefully she learned.
You'll do fine too once you get over the initial horror of the whole thing. Good luck.

Posted on: Thu, 10/25/2007 - 1:17am
pfmom2's picture
Joined: 01/22/2006 - 09:00

I had to use it on my child. It is very powerful but I know it saved my child. Next time please use it. I understand the fear because I as a parent have to make the call when to use it.
If your Epipen expires, save it and get an orange, then practice using the real thing by injecting it into an orange, a grapefruit might work too.
A nurse I knew told me to do this and it worked. It relieved some of the stress I felt and knew I could do it, if I had to and then you get to know what it is like. Might relieve some of the anxiety.
But definitely please use it next time and call 911.

Posted on: Sat, 10/27/2007 - 5:32am
gufyduck's picture
Joined: 10/21/2007 - 22:52

Well, I am now 99% sure I am allergic to walnuts. Last night I was eating a piece of cake i thought had no nuts in it. I didn't bother to ask because when I had it before and didn't' remember any nuts. After the first bite, I could tell there were walnuts, so I stopped eating it. Almost immediately, I noticed my tongue itching, and it was raw where the walnuts had hit my tongue. At this point, I took benedryl (within 1 minute of coming in contact with it). My lips started to burn and swell, and the hand I used to hold the cake started to itch. Thankfully, I never had any trouble breathing, and the reaction subsided within 20 minutes. So I never felt the need to use the epi, although this time i was prepared to do so.
I guess that I will be going to the doctor and no walnuts or any other nuts until I am tested.

Posted on: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:43pm
markwelch's picture
Joined: 01/07/2006 - 09:00

I have used my epi several times... let me tell you, when you need it, you wont worry about the pain.
Yes, it hurts. Yes, it stings. Your heart races, your blood pressure will go up. BUT!!! You are saving your own life. Simple as that.
For me, I dont mind shots, etc. Thats all it feels like to me. If you ever had a tetnus shot, thats what it felt like to me. You can feel the epi going into your leg, but I actually like that feeling since I know it is in there.
I hope this helps...

Posted on: Sun, 12/30/2007 - 5:17am
rascal's picture
Joined: 12/30/2007 - 11:20

dear peg541
im new to this site and i came across this message you sent to gufyduck i think your reply was totally right its better to use the epipen and it save a life than not use it and be wrong. I noticed on the bottom of the message you put your son was allergic to tomatoes, i myself have an allergy to them and i was wondering if i could ask your advice on the subject sometime? i tried to send you a private pm but didnt know how, also there is a time difference maybe you could pm me and i will reply back? thank you

Posted on: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 5:51am
Ra3chel's picture
Joined: 01/21/2008 - 12:28

I've used Epi-Pens a couple times, and they're not nearly so bad as you'd expect. Using them through clothes reduces the freakout factor, and one of the effects of epinepherine / adrenaline is to reduce your body's pain response, so you won't even feel it after a minute. They do leave impressive bruises, though.

Posted on: Mon, 01/28/2008 - 5:43am
phoenixrizing69's picture
Joined: 12/21/2007 - 10:54

I've had to use my epi twice...both times I was passing out b/c my reaction was that severe that quick and my boss(first time) and suitemate(second time) gave me the epi. The bruises are impressive.

Posted on: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 12:47pm
morganmom's picture
Joined: 02/08/2008 - 19:31

I just have to say that you can do it. My daughter is three and two weeks ago, I had to administer the epi-pen. Of course she was scared, but afterwards as we were waiting for the ambulance, she said (minutes before she could barely talk), "I feel better." Now, before we leave the house, she double checks that I have her epi-pen. I'm not kidding, even at three, she understood the difference before and after the administration of the epi-pen. I trust that next time you can do it!!

Posted on: Thu, 03/13/2008 - 3:04am
williamsmummy's picture
Joined: 03/26/2002 - 09:00

You have excellent advice from peg, I agree with every single thing she has said.
Practice , practice ,practice with the trainer and out of date epi pens ( only if you already have replacements)
I have spoken to a allergic adults ( well 2 ) who have used the epi pen on themselves, both had a accidental ingestion, and both , were scared as you were. However once they had used them , and recovered they now feel more confidant in daily life.
They learn from the accidental injestion, but also know that they can help themselves if required.

Posted on: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 8:26am
lilacroses33's picture
Joined: 04/07/2008 - 15:19

i have a severe nut allergy and have had to use the epipen on several occasions. i think the first time i was severn and my mum had to give it to me so i had no choice wether i was scared if it hurt. and to tell u the truth it did not hurt at all so please dont be scared of it. i realy hate injections and if i had to do it myself, i'd be hesitant at first but i know i'd have to do it. i know it doesn't hurt its just actualy doing it. your so worked up about nearly dying that you block out any pain from the needle. its a little pinprick for like a second and can save your life! don't forget you have to go to hospital afterwards too!!


More Community Posts

Latest Post by My_body_is_stupid Fri, 11/22/2019 - 6:35am
Comments: 479
Latest Post by sunshinestate Thu, 11/21/2019 - 10:37am
Comments: 6
Latest Post by sunshinestate Thu, 11/21/2019 - 10:31am
Comments: 172
Latest Post by absfabs Tue, 11/19/2019 - 10:51am
Comments: 3
Latest Post by william robenstein Mon, 11/18/2019 - 10:35am
Comments: 1
Latest Post by sunshinestate Sun, 11/17/2019 - 1:16pm
Comments: 3
Latest Post by absfabs Fri, 11/15/2019 - 5:32pm
Comments: 2
Latest Post by Italia38 Tue, 11/12/2019 - 2:43pm
Comments: 2
Latest Post by absfabs Mon, 11/11/2019 - 1:23pm
Comments: 3
Latest Post by Italia38 Fri, 11/08/2019 - 12:10pm
Comments: 4
Latest Post by Italia38 Fri, 11/08/2019 - 11:47am
Comments: 6
Latest Post by sunshinestate Thu, 11/07/2019 - 3:43pm
Comments: 4
Latest Post by sunshinestate Thu, 11/07/2019 - 2:48pm
Comments: 7

More Articles

It’s the time of year when holiday parties, and family gatherings can make allergen avoidance more problematic. Whether you celebrate Christmas,...

When love is in the air we can get caught up in the moment and throw caution to the wind. However, if you have a...

Food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise. Almost everyone knows someone who has problems with at least one food. The most common food...

Peanuts and Nuts Can Trigger An Asthma Attack

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI), more than 3...

The relationship between anxiety and food or other allergy is a complicated and puzzling one. Research has shown that stress can exacerbate...

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, over 50 million people in the U.S. have allergies. Today's allergy tests...

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) addresses the labeling of packaged food products regulated by the FDA....

For people who suffer from anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can result from an allergy to...

Anaphylactic shock (A-nuh-fih-LAK-tik shok): A severe and sometimes life-threatening immune system reaction to an antigen that a person has been...

In 1963 the American Medical Association designed a special symbol that would alert emergency medical personnel of special medical conditions when...

Finding allergy-free foods for an office potluck may seem impossible, but more options are available than you might think. Eating foods prepared...

One of the most difficult things for a parent to do is determine whether his or her toddler has a cold or a...

You no doubt have your own way of teaching people about your child’s food allergy, a way that suits your temperament, and style of communication....

Reliable peanut allergy statistics are not that easy to come by. There is a lot of available research on food allergies in general but not too...

Most people know that to enjoy whatever food safety accommodations an airline offers they need to inform the airline of their allergy prior to...

A 504 plan* documents food allergy accommodations agreed to by parents and their child’s school. Plans are typically created during a 504 meeting...

If there is a child at your children's school allergic to peanuts, the school probably discourages or may not allow peanut products to be brought...

If you are on a budget, but you need to wear some sort of notification that you have a peanut...

Unless we consciously carve out time for self-care, constant food allergy management can slowly erode our sense of well-being. Signs of allergy-...

Peanuts cause more severe food allergic reactions than other foods, followed by shellfish, fish, tree nuts and eggs. Although there is only a...