Avoid Accidental Epinephrine Auto-Injector Injections
Epinephrine is used when treating someone experiencing a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. Reactions usually happen fast when a person comes in contact with something they are allergic to. Auto-injectors like Epipen®, Auvi-Q®, or Adrenaclick® allow those with severe allergic reactions to treat themselves while they wait for additional help to arrive.
What is Epinephrine Used For?
Epinephrine is a medicine that is used to treat severe allergic reactions, and it’s also known as adrenaline. These reactions occur quickly, often within seconds to minutes. Various things can cause severe allergic reactions, such as insect stings, foods, and even medications.
What does epinephrine do?
Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. Epinephrine functions primarily to increase the heart rate and raise blood sugar levels. It also works by relaxing the muscles in the airways to help the person breathe more easily and tightens the blood vessels, which helps improve blood pressure. This response gives the body extra energy. When a person is stressed or afraid, the body releases larger amounts of epinephrine. This “adrenaline rush” is known as the fight or flight response.
What is an Epinephrine Auto-Injector
Epinephrine auto-injectors are devices that contain epinephrine (adrenaline). It’s most commonly used to treat severe allergic reactions called anaphylaxis. Anyone with a known severe allergic reaction should always carry an epinephrine auto-injector. Persons with severe allergies should also wear a medical alert ID bracelet.
How Long Does an Epinephrine Auto-Injector Last?
An epinephrine auto-injector lasts approximately 12-18 months. When purchasing your EpiPen®, Auvi-Q®, or Adrenaclick® make sure to read when it expires. Replace expired devices because their effectiveness may be less after the expiration date.
Accidental Finger or Hand Sticks with EpiPen® Auto-Injectors
Accidental injections to the finger or hand can easily happen with auto-injectors. The blood vessels in your fingers or hands will constrict at the injection site, decreasing blood flow to the area. Less blood flow means less oxygen is getting to the tissue. In most cases, this will cause little to no injury, but it’s best to call your local poison center to monitor the situation closely if an emergency department visit is needed.
What Happens if You Use an EpiPen® When You Don’t Need it?
Your blood vessels at the injection site will constrict, leading to decreased blood flow. You may experience a “pins and needles” sensation, and pain and bruising at the injection site are also common.
EpiPen® Side Effects
Side effects from Epipen®, Auvi-Q®, or Adrenaclick® can include:
Stop using the epinephrine autoinjector and get immediate medical help if you experience severe side effects such as difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, irregular or skipped heartbeats, chest pain, and stroke symptoms.
How Long do Side Effects of EpiPen® Last?
It’s hard to give a set time since side effects will occur at different times for everyone. If a person accidentally injects epinephrine into their skin, symptoms usually happen in about 10-15 minutes and resolve in 1-2 hours in most cases.
However, if a person requires the use of epinephrine for an allergic reaction, it is important to call 911 or seek medical attention for the allergic response which is a medical emergency.
What to do if Someone Accidentally Pricks Their Hand?
If someone accidentally injects themselves with epinephrine, call the Missouri Poison Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. A specially trained registered nurse or pharmacist will help you over the phone and guide you on what to do next. These situations can often be managed at home with simple treatment and close monitoring.