A resource for young adults living with severe allergy

Using Your EpiPen® or Anapen®

Top Tips For Using Your Epipen®or Anapen®

  • Practice using your EpiPen® or Anapen® trainer device regularly.
  • Your ASCIA Action Plan will guide you about when and how to use your adrenaline injector.
  • If you are having an allergic reaction – Do NOT stand or walk.
  • If you have ANY one of the signs of anaphylaxis – use your adrenaline injector.
  • If in doubt – use your adrenaline injector.

 

 

"Be prepared. Always keep your adrenaline injectors and ASCIA Action Plan with you."

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT A PERSON HAVING AN ALLERGIC REACTION DOES NOT STAND OR WALK

Anaphylaxis is potentially life threatening, so placing the person in the correct position and along with giving adrenaline, without delay, can save the person’s life.

Laying the person flat will help blood flow to the heart which improves blood pressure.
Standing can make anaphylaxis worse by causing blood pressure to drop.

This short video explains how to position someone having an anaphylaxis.

ADRENALINE INJECTORS AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIA

Two adrenaline injectors are available in Australia – EpiPen® and Anapen®. Both adrenaline injectors contain a single fixed dose of adrenaline, however they are administered differently.

EpiPen® is available in 150 microgram and 300 microgram doses.
Anapen® is available in 150 microgram, 300 microgram and 500 microgram doses.

Older teens and young adults should speak with their doctor about what device and dose is most suitable for them.

These illustrations and short animations show how to give each adrenaline injector.

WHEN TO USE AN ADRENALINE INJECTOR

Knowing how and when to use the adrenaline injector is something many people struggle with.

If you are experiencing one or more of the following signs of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) – use your adrenaline injector.

  • Difficult/noisy breathing
  • Swelling of tongue
  • Swelling/tightness in throat
  • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • Wheeze or persistent cough
  • Persistent dizziness or collapse
  • Pale and floppy (young children)
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting after an insect bite or sting

Using an adrenaline injector is the best treatment for anaphylaxis.

How does adrenaline work?

USED YOUR ADRENALINE INJECTOR – WHAT NEXT?

Lie still. Don’t walk or stand.

If you’re finding it hard to breathe, sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Do not stand up.

Why do I need to lie down?

 

Call an ambulance (dial triple zero). Tell them you are having an anaphylaxis and have administered your adrenaline injector.

Get someone to write the time that the adrenaline injector was administered on the device, and hand the used devices to the paramedics.

Remember, you can use a second adrenaline injector (if you have one) after 5 minutes if you still feel faint or have difficulty breathing.

Go to the hospital by ambulance.
Do not walk to the ambulance — ask for a stretcher. If you walk, there is a risk that your blood pressure will suddenly drop, causing you to feel even more unwell and possibly collapse.

Stay under observation for at least 4 hours.
You should be observed in hospital for at least 4 hours as you may require further adrenaline doses or additional medical support. Some people feel better after giving the adrenaline injector but then suddenly become unwell again, even a couple of hours later. This is called a ‘biphasic reaction’.

Before leaving hospital, make sure you get a prescription for a new adrenaline injector and stay with family or friends for the next day or two. Make sure you fill the prescription as soon as possible so you have an adrenaline injector on hand.

Once recovered, go and see your allergist to discuss the cause of your reaction and how you managed the emergency.

CARRYING YOUR ADRENALINE INJECTOR

Handbags, man bags, bum bags, school bags or small backpacks are all great ways to carry both of your EpiPens® or Anapens® and ASCIA Action Plan yourself.

Alternatively, you can buy a waist belt for under your shirt, or a leg holster for around your ankle.

Some ideas include:

Note:

Adrenaline injectors should be stored at room temperature (around 25°C) and keeping your adrenaline injectors in the heat may affect the adrenaline and reduce its effectiveness.

This means that you should not leave your adrenaline injectors in the sun for extended periods of time, or in a car. If you have a job that requires you to be in the sun most of the day, we suggest storing your adrenaline injectors in an isothermic pouch. The pouch will keep your adrenaline injectors at the required temperature. These can be purchased here

Need help?

If you need help, contact the organisation below:

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia

  • Phone 1300 728 000
    This support line is NOT an emergency helpline. Please call 000 for an ambulance in an emergency.
  • Send an email

Further information

"Be prepared. Always keep your adrenaline injectors and ASCIA Action Plan with you."
Content updated May 2024