There are currently several auto-injectors available on the market to help allergic individuals treat their allergic reactions until emergency help arrives. These auto-injectors include Epipen, Adrenaclick, and Audio-Q (this one talks!). Each of these devices contain the same ingredient --epinephrine, also called adrenaline. Epinephrine is every effective for allergic reactions - much more effective than benadryl and other antihistamines. The key to the successful treatment of an allergic reaction is to a severe reaction while you wait for medical help to arrive. The longer you wait before using it, the less effective it can become, so use it quickly. You should always seek emergency care when a reaction occurs, so make sure to call 911 or have someone drive you to the emergency room right away after using your epinephrine auto-injector.
Facts About Food Allergic Reactions:
Fatal and near-fatal food allergic reactions usually occur away from the home after an unintentional ingestion of a food that the individual knew he/she was allergic to.
The severity of the first reaction does not predict how future reactions will be. While your first reaction to a food (or insect sting) could have been mild, it does not mean that future reactions will also be mild - reactions are unpredictable and future ones could be very severe.
Studies demonstrate that the majority of fatal food allergic reactions occur in individuals with peanut and tree nut allergy who ate candy or bakery products before finding out what the ingredients were, so remember to always check the ingredient label before eating something.
Fatal allergic reactions have been reported with many other foods besides peanuts and tree nuts, so you need to be careful no matter what food you are allergic to!
Some allergic reactions are “bi-phasic”, meaning the reaction returns 4-8 hours after the initial reaction.
A common cause of death is a delay in the administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) - don't be afraid to use it!
Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec, are not very effective in counteracting allergic reactions and should not be used as the initial treatment - epinephrine first, benadryl second should be your rule of thumb. Steroids take too long to work and are not first line treatment either.
Tips to Remember:
Do not eat anything until you know exactly what is in it - I have heard too many stories about people dying from a food allergy because they didn't check what was in it first. Take a minute to check, it will save your life.
Always carry your epinephrine auto-injector with you. In fact, because 1 dose may not be enough, it is recommended that you carry 2 doses with you (2 Auvi-Q, 2 adrenaclicks, or 2 Epipens) at all times.
Learn how to use your auto-injector before you have a reaction. The time to learn is not when you are having symptom!
Have a plan and teach your family, friends, and co-workers how to use the injectors in case you are not able to administer a dose yourself.
Don’t assume your child’s teacher, sitter, or caregiver knows how to use an epinephrine auto-injector—go through all the steps with them. If you have some expired epinephrine auto-injectors laying around, you can practice using them on an orange or something similar.
Use your epinephrine auto-injector at the first sign of a reaction. If in doubt, use it! A reaction can progress from mild to very severe in the blink of an eye - the longer you wait before using your injector, the less chance that it will work.
Do not delay in seeking help. You should always seek emergency treatment (IE. Call 911) when you have an allergic reaction.