Food Allergies 101: Peanuts, EpiPens, and Medical Emergencies

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The EpiPen and the EpiPen Jr. both deliver medication to help stop an anaphylactic reaction. Photo by Intropin.

What Does the EpiPen Do?

There are different types of auto-injectors such as the EpiPen, EpiPen Jr., and Auvi-Q.

These medical devises contain the medication called epinephrine.

Epinephrine works by relaxing the muscles in the airways and tightens up the blood vessels.

Administer epinephrine in the middle of the outer thigh, it should not be injected anywhere else on the body – and you can inject it through clothes.

Once you administer the EpiPen, you’ll see a small amount of fluid in the device, but this does not mean you didn’t give the full dose.

 

Epinephrine Side Effects

According to Medline Plus, epinephrine can cause side effects such as rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness, nervousness, weakness, pale skin, headache, and uncontrolled shaking. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to call 911 after taking this medication.

Once in the hospital and the epinephrine has been administered, medical personnel may give other medications to prevent further reactions, and you’ll most likely be kept over for monitoring.

Allergies: Knowledge is Power

Food allergies are scary; however, being an informed parent or person with food allergies is the best way to keep your child or yourself safe. There is no cure for a food allergy, but some children may outgrow their allergy. Some may not, so don’t assume that your child is now safe.

Children who have a food allergy to cow’s milk, egg, soy, and wheat are more likely to outgrow their allergy than children who have an allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid the food and food products that are made or may have come into contact with with the allergen. Talk with your doctor about individual questions and developing an action plan if an allergic reaction should occur.

Resources:

Sacramento Bee. Parents warn of peanut allergy after death of daughter at Camp Sacramento. (2013). Accessed July 29, 2013.

ABC News. Camper dies after allergic reaction to treat made with peanut butter. (2013). Accessed July 31, 2013.

Food Allergy Research and Education. About Anaphylaxis. Accessed July 30, 2013.

Food Allergy Research and Education. Treatment and Managing ReactionsAccessed July 30, 2013.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. What is an allergic reaction to food? (2010). Accessed July 31, 2013.

Medline Plus. Epinephrine Injection. (2012). Accessed July 31, 2013.

Riley Hospital for Children. Anaphylaxis. Accessed July 31, 2013.

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