When an allergic reaction turns life-threatening, will you know what to do?
(BPT) – When Schuyler Morris’ son, Bear, experienced his first life-threatening allergic reaction to dairy from a piece of buttered toast given to him by a well-meaning babysitter, Morris wasn’t initially sure the reaction warranted an epinephrine injection. Although Bear had previously been tested and diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy to dairy and peanuts by an allergist, in the moment, Morris questioned whether the signs and symptoms her son was experiencing were truly an emergency and didn’t want to overreact. Instead, she headed for her pediatrician’s office. Morris wasn’t even halfway there before she realized she needed to take action immediately.
“I looked at him in the rear view mirror, and that’s when I saw that his face was really purple and blowing up, and he started to vomit. So I pulled over, grabbed the EpiPen [Jr® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector], gave it to him immediately, called 9-1-1 and the ambulance picked us up there.”
Bear, now a healthy 9-year-old, had experienced a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Common symptoms of anaphylaxis include hives or redness of the skin, tightness in the throat, trouble breathing and nausea or vomiting. Food allergies, a common cause of anaphylaxis, are on the rise, and an estimated one in 13 children in the U.S. has a food allergy.
Morris, who had previously seen her son have a milder allergic reaction, was not alone in her hesitation to use epinephrine to treat Bear’s symptoms. A recent survey1 by Mylan Specialty, the marketer and distributor of EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector, found that half (50%) of the parents of children with life-threatening allergies are concerned that they wouldn’t know what to do if their child experienced anaphylaxis. Fifty-eight percent feel they are not knowledgeable about the condition, and 76% don’t feel other adults are knowledgeable about it, either, the survey found. What’s more, only 52% thought that administering a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector was the first thing they should do if their child were experiencing anaphylaxis. An unwillingness to overreact was the most common reason cited (25%) for not wanting to administer an epinephrine auto-injector.
While Morris’ son outgrew his dairy allergy, he is still allergic to peanuts – a condition that may endure throughout Bear’s life. Morris keeps two EpiPen Auto-Injectors on hand at all times and instructs other caregivers to do the same.
“I always tell that story to anyone taking care of Bear,” she says. “I explain the plan to them: Watch for the symptoms, use the EpiPen [Auto-Injector] if he’s in danger, call 9-1-1, and then call me. And I say please don’t hesitate to give it to him; it’s important.”
An anaphylaxis action plan is an important part of being prepared should anaphylaxis occur and consists of four key steps:
- Avoid known allergens – Teach children to avoid their allergic triggers.
- Know what symptoms to watch for – Be aware of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.
- Have access to two epinephrine auto-injectors, such as EpiPen Auto-Injectors, at all times.
- Seek immediate emergency medical care if anaphylaxis happens.
“My personal experience has shown me that although we do our best to avoid Bear’s allergic triggers, life happens and you have to be prepared,” Morris says. “I’ve learned being prepared means being ready to use your EpiPen [Auto-Injector] if anaphylaxis occurs and calling for emergency medical help right away.”
To watch a video of Morris talking about her experience and to learn more about anaphylaxis, visit www.EpiPen.com.
1The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Mylan Specialty L.P. within the United States between March 10 – 28, 2014 among 509 U.S. adults aged 18 and up who have been diagnosed with an allergy to food, venom, or latex (“patients”) and 515 U.S. adults who are the parent or guardian of a child under 18 diagnosed with an allergy to food, venom, or latex (“parents”). Results from the study were weighted as needed for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, region, household income, parental status, and propensity to be online to align them with their actual proportions in the population.
EpiPen® (epinephrine) 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine) 0.15 mg Auto-Injectors are for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) caused by allergens, exercise, or unknown triggers; and for people who are at increased risk for these reactions. EpiPen and EpiPen Jr are intended for immediate self administration as emergency supportive therapy only. Seek immediate emergency medical treatment after use.
Important Safety Information
EpiPen Auto-Injectors contain a single dose of epinephrine, which you inject into your outer thigh. DO NOT INJECT INTO YOUR VEIN, BUTTOCK, FINGERS, TOES, HANDS OR FEET. In case of accidental injection, please seek immediate medical treatment. Epinephrine should be used with caution if you have heart disease or are taking certain medicines that can cause heart-related (cardiac) symptoms.
Tell your doctor if you have certain medical conditions such as asthma, depression, thyroid disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, 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 doctor 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 take the EpiPen or EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector.
The most common side effects may include increase in heart rate, stronger or irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, paleness, dizziness, weakness or shakiness, headache, apprehension, nervousness or anxiety. These side effects usually go away quickly, especially if you rest.
Talk to your health care professional to see if EpiPen or EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector is right for you.
Please see the full Prescribing Information and Patient Information.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr® are registered trademarks of Mylan Inc. licensed exclusively to its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mylan Specialty L.P.
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