If you have had a severe allergic
reaction in the past, you know how frightening it can be. Symptoms of breathing
problems, itching, and swelling can come on quickly and become
life-threatening. Giving yourself an epinephrine shot can slow down or stop an
allergic reaction. That's why it is important to have an allergy kit containing
an epinephrine shot with you at all times and to know the right way to use it:
It could save your life someday.
There are some
important things to think about before you give the shot:
It is also important to:
After I have given myself the shot, I can just go
about my business.
Giving yourself a shot does not replace the
need to be seen by a doctor. After giving the shot, seek emergency medical
care. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can return or get worse after an
Continue to Why?
shot can slow down or stop your allergic reaction. Epinephrine
relieves wheezing, breathing problems, and itching from
hives. It helps keep blood pressure within a normal
range and also reduces swelling that can occur in your hands, feet, eyelids,
tongue, and throat.
If you have had a serious allergic reaction in
the past, your risk of having another is high. But people react differently
when they are exposed to the
allergen that causes their allergic reaction. It is
important to get clear instructions from your doctor on when you should give
yourself an epinephrine shot.
An epinephrine shot comes as an
automatic injector that is prefilled with one shot of epinephrine. It is made
to be quick and simple to use.
Take care of your epinephrine
I should keep my allergy kit in my car so it is always
To work properly, epinephrine needs to be kept
at room temperature. A car can get too hot. A better idea would be to keep one
kit in your purse, briefcase, or backpack; one at home; and one at work or
Continue to How?
View a slideshow to see how to do it:
You should feel the effects of the medicine almost right
away. These may include a rapid heartbeat and nervousness as well as improved
breathing. The benefits of the shot usually last 10 to 20 minutes.
In some severe cases, you may need to give a second shot. Your doctor
will explain when a second shot is needed. Make sure you understand, and ask
questions if you are not sure. Too much epinephrine can cause serious side
effects, such as trouble breathing.
I don't like the idea of giving myself a shot. If I
have an allergic reaction, I can just go to the hospital.
You have been prescribed an allergy kit because
you are at risk for a dangerous allergic reaction. Symptoms can come on within
seconds and quickly become life-threatening. If you have a reaction, you cannot
wait until you get to a hospital to be treated. You must give yourself the shot
right away. Luckily, giving the shot is easy.
Continue to Where?
If you have any questions
about giving an epinephrine shot or about when to give a second shot, discuss
them with your doctor. It is important to know how to administer an epinephrine
shot before you need it.
For more information about allergic reactions, see the
Return to topic:
March 9, 2011
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
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