Although these pens can be pricey, it’s important to carry them with you if your doctor recommends it. They just might save your life.

What is an epinephrine auto-injector?
Epinephrine auto-injectors such as the EpiPen® can delay a potentially fatal allergic reaction. They prevent people who have severe allergies from going into anaphylaxis, an extreme allergic reaction that can cause swelling in the airways, which can lead to unconsciousness or even death.

How do epinephrine auto-injectors work?
These pens contain epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline, which relaxes the muscles and opens up the airways, allowing a person to breathe. The drugs in these pens aren’t a cure for anaphylaxis—they wear off after about 10-20 minutes—so be sure to call 911 as soon as an epinephrine pen is used.

How do you use an epinephrine pen?
Different brands of this medications have differing directions, so read the directions before using to be sure you use it right. Generally, when someone is going into a severe allergic reaction, remove the cap on the pen and jam the needle into their thigh. The drugs enter the blood stream immediately, kicking in within 30 seconds. Avoid injecting this medication into your hands, feet, buttocks, or areas of your body other than the thigh.

What are epinephrine side effects?
After receiving an injection of epinephrine, you could feel a pounding heartbeat, nervousness, sweating, nausea, trouble breathing, dizziness, shakiness or pale skin. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Before using an epinephrine pen, tell your doctor or pharmacist about all allergies you’re aware of. This drug may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems.