*Epi-Pen & Anaphylaxis*
Epinephrine is a neat drug. It’s well known as the stuff that saves people having allergic reactions to bee stings. Hopefully people who know they have anaphylaxis carry an auto-injector with them.
Epinephrine is a drug that’s used to reverse anaphylaxis (anaphylactic shock). Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction to ANY allergen. It could be bees and insects, or food, latex, seafood or to a medication. The victim doesn’t have to ingest the substance to have a reaction. It can be caused by inhalation, skin contact or injection. I know one Rubie kid who is severely allergic to peanuts. Even being in the presence of them will cause him to go in to anaphylactic shock.
To make life easier on me, I’ll refer to anaphylactic shock as “AS”.
When a person is exposed to a “trigger” and AS begins it’ll happen fast. Here’re some of the symptoms to look for in identifying it. For the average bystander you won’t know how to or have the means to obtain a blood pressure or other harder to identify symptoms. Here’re the obvious ones.
The reason AS is so dangerous is due to the rapid constriction of the airway. This can take place anywhere from seconds to minutes from the time the victim is exposed to the allergen. Basically think of the human airway as something about the size of a garden hose. The reaction causes the airway to start closing. Take a garden hose and turn it on. Then using your thumbs and fingers squeeze it and watch the volume of water decrease. This is the exact same thing. Basically the victim is internally choking.
AS can quickly lead to death.
The only way to start reversing AS is with epinephrine. Epi is adrenaline and also a bronchodilator. The adrenaline stimulates the heart to beat and bronchodilation means that it causes the airway to reopen.
Auto-injectors come in 2 doses; they both operate the same way. Preferably it should be used direct to skin, but it will work through pants. (Trust me… I’ll prove it.) Don’t waste time trying to pull somebody’s pants off, seconds count. Even if the person starts coming around after the epi is administered they need medical attention. Epi will wear off and the airway could start closing again.
NOTE: Epinephrine expires, be sure to keep it current. If TSHTF an expired one (as long as the solution isn’t discolored) is better than nothing at all, but at the same time it might not work.
If it says “Epi-Pen” then it is a .3 mg dose
If it says “Epi-Pen Jr” then it is a .15 mg dose
Administering Epi using an auto-injector
NOTE: I really didn’t feel like giving myself cardiac arrhythmias so no, I didn’t dose myself with Epi, I used a trainer pen to demonstrate. Notice the real ones are yellow and the one on my leg is blue.
When the black tip makes contact with the leg, a needle pops out and injects the medication. Remember to leave it in there for a few seconds.
I had 5 Epi-Pen’s to use.
Notice in the left picture there’s a wet spot on the brown paper behind the sheetrock. That’s .15 mg of epinephrine from the Epi-Pen Jr. injector I put through the sheetrock.
I armed another injector and carefully gripped the sides of the black tip with my fingers and pulled it back. The needle popped out and the epi shot about 10 feet across the room. Hmm…there’s a lot of pressure behind these things…cool.
Still had 3 more injectors to try. Next victim…a 2x4!!
These inject with so much pressure, the epinephrine was seeping back up around the outside of the needle.
The needles bent going in to the wood, but they still protruded the entire length. So if it’ll go in to a 2x4, it’ll definitely go through a pair of pants.
You might notice after giving an injection that there is still solution in the pen, that’s normal. As long as the needle is protruded the dose was administered.
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