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Epinephrine: Life-Saving Drug!


Epinephrine is the #1 most important medication used to stop or lessen severe allergic reactions that may be life threatening (anaphylaxis).  Anaphylaxis can be triggered by allergic reactions to medications (especially antibiotics and aspirin), foods (especially nuts, peanut, and seafood), latex, and insect stings (bee, yellow jacket, wasp and hornets).

EpiPen® Auvi-Q® prescription auto-injectors that will automatically inject the medicine (epinephrine) into the body when it is used as directed. EpiPen® and Auvi-Q® are both available in a two pack in case a second dose is needed.  Copay coupons can be found on the internet.

How to administer EpiPen®:

  1. Remove safety cap and place orange tip against the outer thigh at a 90 degree angle to the leg (Do not administer into the buttocks or a vein).  It may be given through clothing!
  2. Use a quick motion to press the orange tip hard into the thigh for auto-injection. You will hear a “pop.”
  3. Leave the device in place for 10 seconds then remove.
  4. Seek medical attention at once. Call “911”!
  5. If the allergic reaction worsens, a second dose from a NEW EpiPen® may be given after 5-15 minutes.
  6. Dispose used EpiPen® at pharmacy, ER or your physician’s office.

How to administer Auvi-Q®:

  1. Remove grey outer case and follow the devices verbal instructions or the written instructions on the case to:
  2. Pull off the red safety guard.
  3. Place black end against outer thigh, then press firmly and hold for 5 seconds.  It may be given through clothing!
  4. Seek medical attention at once. Call “911”!
  5. If the allergic reaction worsens, a second dose from a NEW Auvi-Q® may be given after 5-15 minutes.
  6. Dispose used Auvi-Q at pharmacy, ER or physician’s office.

Special tips to remember about EpiPen® & Auvi-Q®

  • Do not expose to direct sunlight (store at room temperature).
  • Check the expiration date frequently (Register your EpiPen® at for expiration date alerts via e-mail).
  • The solution should be clear and colorless.  If the solution is cloudy or yellow, do not use.
  • Do not remove safety cap until ready for use.
  • Do not put thumb or finger over the orange (EpiPen®) or black (Auvi-Q®) tip.
  • Wear your medical ID bracelet.
  • Have your allergist prepare a written Anaphylaxis Action Plan for you and for school (if patient is a child).
  • Teach babysitters, relatives, or anyone you cares for your child how to use the auto-injector.
  • Carry your self-injectable epinephrine with you everywhere!

Remember, even if you only have an expired EpiPen®/Auvi-Q® autoinjector and are experiencing a life threatening reaction, ALWAYS inject it!! It could save your life!

As with any medication, there are short-term side effects of epinephrine (i.e. fast heart rate, sweating, nausea, vomiting, weakness, tremor, nervousness, anxiety, dizziness, headache, and pale skin).

If you are thinking about using your self-injectable epinephrine as a drug of abuse, think again!  While it can save your life, it will not provide a pleasant elevated mood.

At Family Allergy & Asthma Care of Montana, knowing your medications and how to use them is important in self-management.  Find an allergist who is skilled in managing severe allergic reactions…..your life depends on it!

For more information on severe allergies or anaphylaxis go to the Allergy & Asthma Network at: or American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology at

This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. 

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