The Allergies For Kids Webinars cover how to administer EpiPens (epinephrine auto-injectors) to someone who is experiencing a severe allergic reaction. The instructions are simple: "Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh." You remove the blue safety cap and plunge the EpiPen into the person's outer thigh, but what occurs after that moment? How does an EpiPen alleviate symptoms of anaphylaxis or a severe allergic reaction? Let's find out.
When the EpiPen is injected, the epinephrine enters the person's body. Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is a hormone and a medication. You may have heard the term "adrenaline rush", a feeling that occurs during the body's fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline is naturally released by your body's adrenal glands in response to a stressful or threatening situation. Epinephrine acts quickly to increase the speed of your heart rate, raise blood pressure, and reverse symptoms of an allergic reaction like rashes, hives, and swelling. Epinephrine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it causes the blood vessels to constrict (or get smaller) and thus raises blood pressure. After the EpiPen is administered, call 911 to get emergency medical services to the person having an allergic reaction.
It is important that EpiPens and epinephrine auto-injectors are only used in emergency situations. For a long-term solution to manage food allergies, your allergist may prescribe antihistamines or another treatment.