When an allergic reaction becomes life-threatening.

When a life-threatening (severe) allergic reaction – also known as anaphylaxis – happens, every second counts. That’s why you should always have access to two EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) or EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injectors and know when and how to use them. Hear real stories from real patients and caregivers who came face to face with anaphylaxis…and find out what they did.

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LIFE HAPPENS. Be Prepared.®


COLLEEN: My name is Colleen and my son’s name is Ciaran and he has severe food allergies to peanuts and tree nuts.  We’re always doing everything to avoid his allergens.  I had to use the EpiPen Jr®, once, when he was younger and it was Christmas Day. We were sitting around the living room, and all of a sudden, I heard Ciaran making this bizarre wheezing sound. He must have eaten something that we didn’t know about. I immediately knew he was having a hard time breathing.  So, I ran across the room, I picked him up, I brought him into the kitchen, I put him up on the counter, and I used the EpiPen Jr® on his outer thigh, right through his pants.  the symptoms started to subside. We live close to the hospital, so we got him in the car and raced him over there.  Avoiding his allergens is part of our plan.  Accidents can still happen.

SCHUYLER: My name is Schuyler and my son, Bear, has a severe life-threatening allergy to peanuts  and he’s outgrown his allergy to dairy and eggs. We do everything we can to avoid Bear’s allergens, but there are things you can’t control.  One time I had to run out to the store just a half mile away and I told the sitter, “I’ll be right back; don’t give Bear anything to eat.” I had told her before all of his allergies and how important it was to avoid certain foods.  So when I got home, she literally met me at the door with him on her hip, his face was covered in hives, and I could hear that he was breathing with sort of this rasp, and immediately I knew he had had an allergic reaction to something.  And she told me “I gave him a little tiny piece of toast with some butter. And then I realized it was the allergic reaction to the dairy. 

I was thinking to myself, like, is this an emergency? Is this an emergency situation? Do I need to call 911? I was in total denial about it being an emergency. I was like, no, this isn’t an emergency. I’m just going to drive him to the pediatrician’s office. I looked at him in the rearview mirror and that’s when I saw that his face was really purple and blowing up and he started to projectile vomit.  So I pulled over, grabbed the EpiPen®, gave it to him immediately and then called 911  and then the ambulance picked us up there, but I could see the change in him. The EpiPen® had started to alleviate his symptoms.  I always tell that story to any babysitter and I explain the plan to them, watch for the symptoms, use the EpiPen® if he’s in danger, call 911  and then call me, and I say please don’t hesitate to give it to him. You know, it’s important.

LIFE HAPPENS. Are You Prepared?

CRYSTAL: My name is Crystal and I have a life-threatening allergy to shellfish.  I was at my friend’s wedding and we were at the reception, and I knew that I couldn’t eat anything that was shellfish related. And I told myself I’ll just stay away from those items and I’ll just have chicken. At the reception I was consuming what I thought was chicken salad, but it was, in fact, crab salad. I could feel my throat starting to close, my face started to swell, my airway was constricted  …and I panicked. I didn’t have my EpiPens® with me. I ended up leaving the reception in the back of an ambulance. Always carry two EpiPens®

COLLEEN: Always carry your EpiPen® Auto-Injectors. 

SCHUYLER: Always carry your EpiPens®, always. 

LIFE HAPPENS. Be Prepared.®

What else can you do to be prepared? Try these useful tools.

Next: School & Life-threatening Allergies