Everyone should learn how to use an Epipen. It is so simple to use and could save yours and/or someone else’s life. I’ve shown countless friends and family how to use one in the past using a trainer pen, but nothing can prepare you for actually doing it for real. However, if you know how to use one and regularly familiarise yourself with the procedure and order of what needs to happen, you will rise to the challenge when you need to.
If you’re administering your EpiPen for yourself, I can assure you it doesn’t hurt at all. If you are having an anaphylactic attack there will be so many other unpleasant sensations assaulting your senses that you wont feel a thing. I can promise you this from first hand experience; I had previously been terrified of actually using the EpiPen and was so surprised when I first did, how easy and painless it was.
The most important thing is to act quickly if you think you or someone else is having an anaphylactic attack. Here are some simple guidelines to help you diagnose if it’s for real.
How do I tell if someone is having an anaphylactic attack?
Possible allergy symptoms:*
- generalised flushing of the skin
- nettle rash (hives) anywhere on the body
- sense of impending doom
- swelling of throat and mouth
- difficulty in swallowing or speaking
- runny nose and watering eyes
- alterations in heart rate
- severe asthma
- abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
- sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)
- collapse and unconsciousness
Watch a live demonstration of how to use an EpiPen
This short video of me demonstrating how to use an expired EpiPen into an orange will show you visually exactly what to do. Click on the image to visit YouTube and watch the video.
The first thing you should do if you or someone else is having an anaphylactic attack is to call 999 (or the relevant emergency services number) immediately. Then, administer the EpiPen. If someone else is there to help both of these actions can be taking place at once. I wrote an Action Plan a few years ago to help me and my friends and family know what to do because when it does happen, panic can quite easily set in. Click here to download my Anaphylaxis Action Plan.
You could also order a trainer pen to practise with which has no needle or adrenalin inside it. Visit: http://www.epipen.co.uk/patient/accessories.html
Have you used your EpiPen? I’d love to hear from you if you have, to find out how you got on. If you haven’t used it yet, when one next expires, instead of just returning it to the surgery when you order a new one, have a go at injecting an orange. It will give a really good idea of how it feels to do it for real. I have honestly never spoken to anyone else who has anaphylaxis about how they found it using their EpiPen. It’s really easy isn’t it? Stay safe and don’t forget to take your EpiPen with you wherever you go.
* Nobody would necessarily experience all of these symptoms. Courtesy of the Anaphylaxis Campaign -