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Image is from CBS News

Epinephrine auto-injectors are life saving. Their importance also makes it important that you fully understand how to use your auto injector. Keep reading to find out more about the epinephrine auto injector.


Anaphylaxis is a life threatening allergic reaction that begins quickly and can cause death without the proper medical treatment. Symptoms can begin within minutes to hours after exposure to the allergen. It can cause:

  • An itchy rash
  • Tongue and throat swelling
  • shortness of breath
  • vomiting
  • lightheadedness
  • low blood pressure

The allergic reaction that causes anaphylaxis causes a large amount of histamine to be released into the blood stream. Too much histamine in the blood can affect the heart, causing cardiac arrest. It can also cause the blood pressure to drop so low that the person loses consciousness or goes into shock.

The most common causes of anaphylaxis are insect bites or stings, food, and medications. Food is the most common cause, particularly in children, followed by insect bites. Medication is the third most common cause of anaphylaxis. Up to 2% of people will have at least one anaphylactic reaction in their lives.


Epinephrine is the most important part of treatment for anaphylaxis. Antihistamines, steroids, and fluids may be used as complementary treatment in addition to epinephrine. These items can be given at the hospital, but you will still need an epinephrine injection as soon as you are exposed to your allergen.

Auto Injector Training

You’ll need to be trained before an emergency so you know how to use your auto injector. Your doctor and or pharmacist will likely go through the steps of how to use your auto injector with you. However, there are steps that you should take on your own as well. First, you should go to the website of the manufacturer or your auto injector. They will have an instructional video on how to use yours. You should also order a practice pen. This will allow you to practice injecting yourself before you find yourself in an emergency.

Handling and Storage

Your auto injector will come with two pens in the correct dosage for your body weight. You should always keep it in the provided carrying case, because the medication can be affected by sunlight. It is susceptible to heat as well, so you should never leave it in your car. Try to avoid exposing it to temperatures over 86°F. The pen isn’t waterproof, so you should avoid exposing it to water as well. You should also check it periodically to be sure that it is in date. If it is out of date, cloudy, or has particles in it, then you should dispose of it and get a replacement.

Using Your Auto Injector

Take the caps off the auto injector and push it into your thigh. The needle will go through clothing. Hold it in place for ten seconds, and then remove it. If the needle is out, then you got your dose of epinephrine. Place it back in the carrying case, and call 911. Give the used pen to the EMT when they arrive so they can dispose of it properly.

Anaphylactic reactions are a scary experience, but the epinephrine auto injector can save your life. Most people recover completely with no lasting affects when they receive the receive the proper medical care.