I came up with a top twenty list of lifesaving tips for a recent podcast recording for The Allergy Today Podcast but have since realised there are even more than 20!
So here, as a bonus are ALL my tips, in no particular order…
These things are really important, were you aware of all of them?
- Dial 999 and state ANAPHYLAXIS
- If in doubt inject! The drug, epinephrine which is the adrenaline you need works better, faster and more effectively if taken before breathing difficulties develop.
- Practise using your injector. Use old expired devices to inject an orange so you get a feel for what happens. Watch videos and read the instructions with the medication as these explain it really well.
- Understand all three pens – There are three pens on the market. They are all similar but it’s worth understanding how all three work in case you need to help someone administer who has a different injector to you.
- Learn what the signs or anaphylaxis are – e.g. vomiting, shortness of breath, asthma, hives spreading over body, itching lips and throat, swelling throat and tongue, feeling of impending doom, unconscious in some cases. Make sure you know what your key symptoms are and have this on your Action Plan.
- Get a trainer pen – you can send off for these from Jext, EpiPen and Emerade and they are completely free.
- Know where to inject – Always inject into the outer, mid thigh
- Ensure adrenaline is injected. Push pen firmly, hold for 5-10 seconds and massage needle exit point after injecting.
- Don’t inject your thumb – Never hold thumb over the end of the pen as you can inject yourself by mistake. Always hold the pen in a fist with thumb curled over your fingers.
- Teach your friends and family what to do, they will then feel more confident in an emergency.
- Carry an Action Plan detailing what your reactions look like, what to do in an emergency and with all your personal details. This can be useful to any friend or family member who may have to administer for you.
- Stay calm. Do not panic. This will help keep your breathing level, reduce your heart rate and can mean you have a less severe reaction.
- NEVER stand up or walk. Ideally stay laying on the floor with knees raised and feet planted on the floor, head supported. If you are having trouble breathing, sit up but never stand up and do not walk.
- Always carry two adrenaline auto injectors, in case one dose is not enough or the first injector is faulty. You may also have a delayed secondary reaction so carrying two injectors is advisable.
- Wear a medical bracelet such as Medicalert to ensure paramedics can get access to your medical history and details. Medicalert.org.uk.
- When do you use the 2nd pen? Understand when to use a second pen. If the first one doesn’t work, inject the second pen.You should see improvement if the first pen has worked almost immediately.
- Use both thighs – If you use a second pen, always inject into the other thigh, there is a sciencey reason for this, but basically the muscle constricts after being injected so potentially this could prevent full absorption of the second injection, so always inject into the other thigh.
- Check expiry dates – although these have been extended in some cases due to shortages, make sure you check with your doctor what the situation is with your particular injector.
- Set reminders. This can be done via the pen provider, so Jext, Epipen and Emerade all offer reminder messages.
- Stay safe! Don’t take risks. Follow your gut instinct and I pray you don’t have to use yours.
Live podcast at the Allergy Show
We recorded an episode of The Allergy Today Podcast live at The Allergy Show North in Liverpool with Dan Kelly of the May Contain blog, Tanya Ednan-Laperouse or Natasha’s Foundation and Aimee Allan of Allergy Stars.
We talked about the different injectors, our experiences of using them and also discussed what could be done by the manufacturers to make our lives easier. The devices haven’t really changed for many years, could a new product work better?
Listen here by clicking on the arrow to play audio…
How to administer adrenaline
I’d love to hear what you think. Have you had to use yours? What was it like? What do you find the hardest? Is it remembering to take them, how to carry them? Let’s chat adrenaline injectors!