What You Need to Know About EpiPen use

Tell People Where to Find Your EpiPen

EpiPen box
Photo © Melanie Martinez

EpiPen is a great product, if it's used when it's needed. There are times when a victim of anaphylaxis is unable to self-administer an EpiPen because of weakness or confusion.

If you're confused or weak during your anaphylaxis, you are in serious danger and really need epinephrine. It's important to tell those around you where to find your EpiPen before you need it. Show them the box and the EpiPen -- and teach them how to use it on you.

Keep EpiPen in the Case

EpiPen in the hard case
Photo © Melanie Martinez

The hard plastic case protects EpiPen from accidental discharge in your backpack or purse. It won't be of any use to you during an anaphylactic reaction if it doesn't have any epinephrine left in it.

Check the Expiration Date Regularly

EpiPen expiration date
Photo © Melanie Martinez

Check the expiration date regularly and replace expired EpiPens. When using an EpiPen, there is no rule to check expiration because at that point it doesn't matter. Even if it is expired -- use it if that's all you have.

Check for Clarity Regularly

Check EpiPen for clarity
Photo © Melanie Martinez

Besides checking the expiration date, it's a good idea to look in the little window to make sure there isn't any contamination floating in the epinephrine. If there is, take it back to the pharmacy.

Familiarize Yourself with the EpiPen

Inject EpiPen into thigh through clothing
Photo © Melanie Martinez

The instructions for use are on the EpiPen, but it's a good idea to walk through it before you need to do it. Have anyone who might be in a position to help you walk through it as well. Print How to Use an EpiPen and give it to anyone who might need to help.

Discard Properly After Use

Properly dispose of a used EpiPen
(c) Melanie Martinez

It's important to discard a used EpiPen properly. The needle is sharp and can injure someone. If the patient has a virus like HIV or hepatitis, it is possible -- however unlikely -- to spread the disease to another person through a used EpiPen.

Put the EpiPen back in its hard plastic case to transport it to the hospital for proper disposal.

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