Frequently Asked Questions
It can be terrifying to suddenly find yourself short of breath or breaking into a rash after eating a certain food or being stung or bitten by an insect. That's why you should be careful to avoid allergens whenever possible and carry an EpiPen 2-Pak® in case of a reaction.
Life-Threatening Allergies and Anaphylaxis
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur quickly (as fast as within a couple of minutes). Anaphylaxis can be caused by a number of triggers, including certain foods, stinging and biting insects, medications and latex.
What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?
Symptoms of anaphylaxis vary, but those involving the skin (hives, itching, skin redness) are most common. A majority of cases also involve swelling of the lips and tongue as well as of the airways (tightness in the throat, shortness of breath). Reactions may also involve the gastrointestinal system (nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea), the cardiovascular system (fast heartbeat, chest pain, low blood pressure) or the central nervous system (headache, confusion).
Who may be at risk for anaphylaxis?
Life-threatening allergies can happen at any time, but certain factors may make some individuals susceptible to having a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Remember that by avoiding your allergens, you can help prevent a life-threatening allergic reaction. The factors that make some individuals susceptible can be divided into two categories:
1) General factors that increase the risk of having a life-threatening allergic reaction include:
- Exposure to certain allergens (triggers) such as food (eg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk), biting or stinging insects (eg, bees, ants and ticks), latex and medications (eg, penicillin) for those who are allergic to them
- Exercise, in susceptible individuals
- Exposure to cold, heat or sunlight
2) Factors that may increase the severity of a life-threatening allergic reaction include:
- Adolescents and young adults may be at an increased risk of having a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) because of inconsistent behaviors in avoiding known triggers
- The elderly may be at an increased risk of having a more severe life-threatening allergic reaction because of accompanying disorders and medications used to treat those disorders, such as heart disease. In addition, the elderly may be at an increased risk of having a more severe life-threatening allergic reaction if they are exposed to biting or stinging insects
- Disorders that make the symptoms of anaphylaxis difficult to recognize, such as impaired vision, seizures or depression
- Medications or chemicals that make the symptoms of anaphylaxis difficult to recognize, such as antidepressants, sedatives or alcohol
- Disorders such as asthma (especially if severe or not controlled with medication), heart disease, high blood pressure and cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke
- Certain medications used in the treatment of heart disease, such as beta-blockers, that block the medicinal benefits of epinephrine
Talk to your health care professional to determine if you may be at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) — and if you should be prescribed an EpiPen Auto-Injector. It’s important for those at risk to avoid known allergy-causing triggers and always carry an EpiPen Auto-Injector with them.
I’ve had a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Can I have another one, or have I built up a tolerance to the trigger?
If you have had anaphylaxis, you’re at higher risk for another life-threatening allergic reaction.The progression of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is often unpredictable, so initially mild symptoms shouldn’t be ignored — these can progress to a severe reaction that could have life-threatening consequences.
What foods typically cause anaphylaxis?
About 2.5% of Americans have some type of food allergy, but not everyone will have a life-threatening allergic reaction. Peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts and pecans), seafood, cow’s milk and eggs account for the majority of life-threatening allergic reactions in young children, while seafood accounts for the vast majority of life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in adults.
How does epinephrine work?
The drug product in the EpiPen Auto-Injector is epinephrine. Epinephrine by injection is the treatment of choice for life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) because it quickly begins working to treat the symptoms. It constricts blood vessels to increase blood pressure, relaxes smooth muscles in the lungs to reduce wheezing and improve breathing, stimulates the heart (increases heart rate) and works to reduce hives and swelling that may occur around the face and lips.
Is one dose of epinephrine always enough?
Approximately 20% of patients who receive an initial dose of epinephrine for treatment of anaphylaxis require a second dose. Therefore, it is important that patients at risk for anaphylaxis have two doses of epinephrine available. For your convenience, both the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr Auto-Injectors are available in 2-Pak cartons. That way, an extra dose is available if it’s needed. More than two doses of EpiPen Auto-Injector should be administered only under direct medical supervision. Make sure you speak with your health care professional about how to identify the signs and symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you, your child or someone you're caring for shows signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis, inject the health care professional-prescribed EpiPen or EpiPen Jr immediately and seek emergency medical attention. Take the used EpiPen Auto-Injector with you to the emergency room for inspection and disposal. To download the Prescribing Information, please click here.
Your EpiPen Auto-Injector
To download the Patient Information, including complete directions for use, please click here.
How long has EpiPen been available?
EpiPen Auto-Injector has been available for 25 years. More than 46 million EpiPen Auto-Injectors have been dispensed.
Where’s the best place to keep the EpiPen Auto-Injector?
You should take your EpiPen Auto-Injector everywhere you go, but it should be kept at room temperature (25°C, 77°F) until the marked expiration date, when it should be replaced. The effectiveness of this drug may decrease after the expiration date; therefore, care should be taken to promptly refill the prescription before the expiration date. Your EpiPen Auto-Injector should not be refrigerated or exposed to extreme heat or light.
If you need additional EpiPen Auto-Injectors to keep at work, school or any other location, talk to your health care professional.
Where should a child keep an EpiPen Auto-Injector while at school?
Make sure your child or appropriate school personnel has immediate access to his/her EpiPen Auto-Injector. School regulations for carrying epinephrine auto-injectors vary and should be discussed with school personnel. School personnel should also be informed of your child’s history of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and your child’s specific allergy trigger(s).
Is there one EpiPen Auto-Injector for everyone?
The EpiPen Auto-Injector contains a single dose of 0.3 mg of epinephrine, appropriate for people weighing 66 pounds or more. The EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector contains 0.15 mg of epinephrine for children weighing 33 to 66 pounds. Your health care professional will carefully determine the most appropriate dose of epinephrine for you or your child.
What if I'm not able to give myself an injection?
It's important that you and a family member or caregiver know how to administer an EpiPen Auto-Injector. Have your health care professional show someone close to you how to use your EpiPen Auto-Injector in case you can’t administer it yourself. Directions are printed on the side of the Auto-Injector itself. For further instructions, contact your health care professional. You can also ask your health care professional about an EpiPen Auto-Injector training device. A training device is included with every 2-Pak carton.
Ask your health care professional about creating a medical action plan in case of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Such plans list common signs and symptoms anaphylaxis and emphasize the importance of using an EpiPen Auto-Injector promptly and seeking immediate medical attention. These plans may also be personalized to include other life-threatening disorders or conditions you may have, other medications you’re currently taking amd the specific dose of epinephrine prescribed for you, as well as contact information for caregivers or family members.
Can I reuse the EpiPen Auto-Injector?
No. Although most of the liquid remains in the EpiPen Auto-Injector after an injection, it cannot be reused.Take your used EpiPen or EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector with you to the emergency room or your health care professional’s office for proper disposal.
Do the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr Auto-Injectors expire? If so, what should I do when one expires?
Like any medication, the EpiPen Auto-Injector has an expiration date, which is printed on the side of the Auto-Injector.The effectiveness of this drug may decrease after the expiration date; therefore, care should be taken to promptly refill the prescription before the expiration date. You can register your EpiPen Auto-Injectors online at MyEpiPen.com — an online resource center with helpful information about life-threatening allergic emergencies (anaphylaxis) and your EpiPen Auto-Injectors. If you register your EpiPen Auto-Injector, MyEpiPen.com sends you expiry reminders to help you renew your prescription before it expires.
Is the EpiPen Auto-Injector carrier tube waterproof?
No. The carrier tube has no rubber seal, so it’s not waterproof. If your EpiPen Auto-Injector is ever submerged in water or another liquid, contact your health care professional immediately to obtain a new EpiPen Auto-Injector prescription.
Auto-Injector Disposal Plan