Over the years, there have been many advances in understanding potentially life-threatening (severe) allergies and the severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis, that they can cause. However, some myths about anaphylaxis and severe allergies continue to persist. Below are just a few of those myths:
Although you should always avoid your allergens, accidents can still happen. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction in someone who is allergic, and food allergens are not always obvious or easily identifiable. So, it’s important to always be prepared with an anaphylaxis action plan, which includes avoiding allergic triggers, recognizing the signs and symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction, having immediate access to two EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injectors and seeking immediate emergency medical care should anaphylaxis occur.
Anaphylaxis is unpredictable — a mild allergic reaction one time can be life-threatening the next. For example, someone who has a peanut allergy may accidentally eat a peanut and feel tingling lips and watery eyes that eventually go away. However, if the same person is accidentally exposed to a peanut on a different occasion, it could cause difficulty breathing, weak pulse, shortness of breath, fainting and hives that may quickly become life-threatening. Both are instances of anaphylaxis, but the severity, progression, symptoms and duration of the symptoms are inconsistent and unpredictable.
Although they are less common among adults, a person could potentially develop severe allergies at any time during his or her life. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction — and to speak with your healthcare professional if you may be at risk — no matter how old you are.
Epinephrine auto-injectors look and function differently from one another and, as such, require different training. When picking up your EpiPen® Auto-Injector prescription at the pharmacy, check to be sure that a different device was not dispensed and that you leave the pharmacy with the EpiPen® Auto-Injector that your healthcare professional prescribed for you.
There are no absolute contraindications for epinephrine if a person is experiencing anaphylaxis. Use your EpiPen® Auto-Injector for the treatment of anaphylaxis as prescribed by your healthcare professional. EpiPen® Auto-Injector is not a substitute for emergency medical care, so seek immediate emergency medical care following administration.
Tell your healthcare professional about all of your medical conditions, especially if you have asthma, a history of depression, thyroid problems, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart problems, have any other medical conditions, are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Be sure to also tell your healthcare professional all the medicines you take, especially medicines for asthma. If you have certain medical conditions, or take certain medicines, your condition may get worse or you may have longer lasting side effects when you use EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr®.
Mylan Specialty offers the My EpiPen Savings Card®, with which eligible patients can get up to 6 EpiPen® Auto-Injectors for as little as $0*. Download yours now.
*Restrictions apply. See Terms and Conditions. This offer is not valid for patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid or any other federal or state-funded healthcare program or where prohibited by law. Mylan Specialty L.P. reserves the right to amend or end this program at any time without notice.
According to national food allergy guidelines, epinephrine, which is the medicine inside EpiPen® Auto-Injector, is the only recommended first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. Antihistamines are commonly used for treating itching and hives, but they do not treat the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis, and should be used only after life-threatening symptoms have been managed. Using antihistamines is the most commonly cited reason patients give for not using their epinephrine auto-injector when anaphylaxis occurs, which increases the risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction.
It is important to revisit an anaphylaxis action plan from time to time in order to incorporate any new information about your life, your reaction history or any other recommendations of your healthcare professional. Consider timing anaphylaxis action plan updates around important lifestyle changes. For children this may mean before returning to school or starting camp.
Up to 20% of patients — about 1 in 5 — who receive an initial dose of epinephrine for treatment of anaphylaxis require a second dose. Why? Sometimes an allergic reaction can be so severe that a second dose of epinephrine is required. In other cases, a second allergic reaction can occur 1 to 72 hours (usually within 8 hours) after the initial reaction — even with no further exposure to the allergic trigger. Therefore, it is important that patients at increased risk for anaphylaxis have two doses of epinephrine available at all times. More than two sequential doses of epinephrine should only be administered under direct medical supervision.
For your convenience, EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr® Auto-Injectors come in packs of two. These are called EpiPen 2-Pak® and EpiPen Jr 2-Pak® cartons, which contain two single auto-injectors, a carrier tube for each auto-injector, an S-clip to clip the two carrier tubes together, instructions for use, an EpiPen® Trainer and instructions on how to use the EpiPen® Trainer to help you become familiar with the administration technique. To be sure you always have access to two EpiPen® Auto-Injectors, keep a carton everywhere you may need them.
Food allergy guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) state that epinephrine is the only first-line treatment for anaphylaxis and that delays in epinephrine administration have been associated with negative health outcomes. There are no absolute contraindications to the administration of epinephrine during anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is unpredictable, so it’s important to have an anaphylaxis action plan in place and practice how to use an EpiPen® Auto-Injector with an EpiPen® Trainer, in case an emergency ever does occur.