Anaphylactic shock: Do you know what to do?
Food allergies alone result in more than 300,000 ambulatory care visits per year among children under the age of 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Other common triggers for anaphylaxis, which is an extreme allergic reaction, include insect bites or stings and allergies to medicines such as penicillin. In most cases, symptoms include itchy rash, throat swelling and low blood pressure.
The only treatment for anaphylactic shock is epinephrine given through an automatic injection device, more commonly referred to as an EpiPen.
Dr. Charles Nozicka, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Advocate Children’s Hospital and clinical professor of emergency medicine at Rosalind Franklin University, recently participated in a study that looked at complications of autoinjectors, such as the EpiPen. Incorrect use may still save the life of the person suffering an allergic reaction, but could result in a laceration or cut that may need several stiches to repair. The most common reason for incorrect usage and injuries occurred when the person providing the injection fails to properly immobilize the leg.
Dr. Nozicka stresses that parents and adults that are around children who have the potential to experience severe allergic reactions read the instructions and visualize giving the child the shot before an allergic reaction occurs.
He says, “If you wait until that moment when you need to administer the shot, the stakes are high, time is of the essence and the pressure is on. That is when mistakes are made and people can get hurt.”
“The EpiPen should be injected in the outer upper anterior thigh (see video link). This allows for the most efficient use of the medication,” says Dr. Nozicka. “In most children, it will take two people to give the shot. One person to hold the leg still and the second to give the shot. When injected, the medication will cause a burning sensation and that often causes the child to move or jerk away from the needle.”
Dr. Nozicka notes that this is why it is important to have someone physically hold the leg still, if possible.
“The needle should go straight into the thigh and be held there for ten seconds after you hear a click. The needle should automatically retract when you pull back the injector,” he says. “Gently massage the injection area for 10 seconds after injecting to minimize the pain.”
Anytime EpiPen is administered, you should call 911 and the individual should be examined by an emergency medical (EMS) team. The medication epinephrine metabolizes quickly, often in 30 minutes, and an additional dose may be necessary.
There at two types of EpiPens: an EpiPen including the proper dosage of .3 milligrams for individuals weighing more than 66 pounds, and the EpiPen Jr., which has a dose of .15 milligrams for kids under 66 pounds.
For more information on how to use an EpiPen, click here.
About the Author
Mickey Ramirez, health enews contributor, is the director of Brand Services. He enjoys kimchi, honesty and a room with a view. He claims to not be a writer, but he occasionally learns information that is just too important to keep to himself.