Treating Anaphylaxis

Patients and their families should know how to respond to a severe allergic reaction—starting with how to use an epinephrine auto-injector.

Patients and their families should know how to respond to a severe reaction. If your allergist prescribes epinephrine, it is normal to be nervous about learning how to properly use the auto-injector. Keep in mind that thousands of people have successfully learned to use these devices, and with practice, you will, too.

Be sure to read the instructions carefully and practice using the training device provided by the manufacturer. Check out the manufacturer’s website to see if a training video is available. By making sure you are have all of the information you need and practicing with the training device, you will be well-prepared to use the auto-injector when anaphylaxis occurs. Knowing that you are prepared for an emergency will give you peace of mind. Depending on which type of auto-injector your doctor prescribes, you can find detailed instructions and resources online. (Click here for links to some auto-injector options.).

Keep in mind that epinephrine expires after a certain period (usually around one year), so be sure to check the expiration date and renew your prescription in time. Although you may never need to take your medication, it’s important to have it available and ready for use at all times. (Allergists generally recommend that if you have an anaphylactic reaction and your epinephrine has expired, you should use the auto-injector anyway and, as always, call 911 for help immediately.)