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Epinephrine: our little hero

Many of you with food allergies know what epinephrine is. If you have just developed food allergies you may not know. Epinephrine (available through Epi-Pen or Auvi-Q) is a medication used to treat severe, life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). Please refer to the diagram and description below. I know many people who have food allergies but refuse to bring their epinephrine because they don't think a severe reaction will happen to them. However, some food allergies, such as peanuts, can be fatal. Also, an individual may experience a mild reaction the first time they eat a peanut, and have a severe reaction to the second exposure. This occurred with my younger sister, Erica. Erica was recently diagnosed with a peanut allergy. Just two years ago, she was able to eat candies with peanuts, until last Halloween, when she ate a Snickers bar and experienced an itchy throat which was relieved with Benadryl. We took her to the allergist and she was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. Erica is 10 years old and is not accustomed to food allergies. She often forgets to carry her Epi-pen. I always advise her to carry her epinephrine because she can never predict how she will react if she should accidentally eat a peanut again. But many do not even know how to use an Epi-Pen or Auvi-Q! Here are instructions that you can hopefully pass on to others who have food allergies. Save a life!

  • Trouble breathing

  • Hives (rash that may itch)

  • Severe itching

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Weak pulse

  • Stomach pain

  • Fainting or passing out

  • Swelling of your face, lips, mouth, or tongue

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, administer the epinephrine immediately! 


1. Remove the auto-injector from the carrier tube. Flip open the cap on top of the EpiPen and slide the auto-injector out of the case. Put the EpiPen in your fist with the tip pointing downwards. With your other hand, remove the blue safety release by pulling straight up (don't twist it). 

*never put your thumb or fingers over the orange tip 

2. If you are administering the auto-injector to a young person, hold their leg while administering the EpiPen. Place the orange tip against the middle of your leg (upper leg) at a right angle. Swing and push the epinephrine firmly until it clicks and the click indicates that there was an injection. Hold it firmly in place for 3 seconds and then remove it from your leg. 

Instructions on how to Administer the EpiPen

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