Antihistamine or epinephrine?

Antihistamines are commonly used for treating hives or other skin symptoms, but they do not treat the life‑threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis (see below for a list of symptoms to watch for). According to National Food Allergy Guidelines, epinephrine is the only recommended first‑line treatment for anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is the medication in EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto‑Injectors.

Anaphylaxis is unpredictable.

In addition, the severity, progression, symptoms and duration of the symptoms of anaphylaxis are inconsistent and unpredictable. It is important to talk to your healthcare professional about your risks.

Vigilance is essential.

Because of this unpredictability, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers of children living with potentially life threatening, or severe, allergies—as well as adults with severe allergies—to be vigilant about any type of severe allergic reaction. Avoiding known allergens is the best way to help prevent anaphylaxis. Do everything possible to avoid your allergens.

- Make sure that family members, school personnel, babysitters or anyone else who maybe responsible for the care of your child or children with severe allergies knows what allergens need to be avoided

- When cooking and preparing food take steps to avoid allergens

- Plan ahead when eating out or traveling - inform restaurants and airlines about any known allergens and ask about their food allergy policy

Talk to a healthcare professional about how to identify the signs and symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Recognize the symptoms that might occur.

Anaphylaxis is a severe or potentially life‑threatening allergic reaction that occurs very quickly—even as fast as within a couple of minutes of exposure to an allergen. Here are some of the symptoms to watch for.

Head

Head 

  • Feeling very anxious
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Passing out
Mouth

Mouth

  • Itching
  • Swelling of lips and/or tongue
  • Tingling of lips or tongue
Lungs

Lungs

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
Skin

Skin

  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Redness
  • Swelling
Throat

Throat

  • Itching
  • Tightness/closure
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
Heart

Heart

  • Weak pulse
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Shock
Stomach

Stomach

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps

What should you do?

If you, your child or someone you're caring for shows signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis, administer EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® Auto‑Injector immediately as prescribed and seek emergency medical care.

Acting fast can make a difference.

In all cases of anaphylaxis prompt assessment and treatment are critical. Epinephrine is the only first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. If you suspect you're having a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), don't hesitate to use an epinephrine auto-injector and immediately seek emergency medical care.

What should I tell my doctor before using EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr®?

Use your EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® Auto-Injector for treatment of anaphylaxis as prescribed by your healthcare professional, regardless of medical conditions or medication. People with certain medical conditions have a higher chance of having serious side effects from EpiPen® Auto-Injector.

Before you use EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr®, tell your healthcare professional about all your medical conditions, but especially if you have heart problems or high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems, asthma, a history of depression, Parkinson’s disease, have any other medical conditions, are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Especially tell your healthcare professional if you take certain asthma medicines.

Next: What is Epinephrine?

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