Autoinjectors And Correct Administration


Table of Contents

Adrenaline in the form of epinephrine is the first line of treatment for a person having an allergic emergency called anaphylaxis.

Adrenaline autoinjectors are the syringe device that enables anyone to treat a person having an anaphylaxis event without having any prior medical training. You might know or have heard of autoinjectors by their brand names, Epi-Pen and Anapen.

What Is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis results from a person having a severe allergic reaction to something their immune system cannot deal with. People with known allergies will carry an autoinjector with them everywhere they go to prevent their death if they are exposed to the source they are severely allergic to. An example of two common severe allergies are peanuts and codeine.

What Is An Anaphylaxis Action Plan

An action plan is a list of things to do in the correct order for someone at risk of having an anaphylactic medical emergency. In Australia, ASCIA is the main source for acquiring an anaphylaxis action plan but not the only source of such information. 

Why Is Adrenaline Needed To Treat Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, and adrenaline is a life-saving treatment. Adrenaline reverses a severe allergic reaction by treating the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. Adrenaline also assists with breathing difficulties and maintains heart function and stable blood pressure. Adrenaline works within minutes of the injection being delivered into the outer thigh, and the effects will last between 10 to 20 minutes.

Adrenaline is a hormone produced naturally in the body to assist with the fight or flight response and is safe when given using an adrenaline injector. Anyone who carries an autoinjector will have the correct dosage for their treatment requirements. If a small child is only afforded the option of an adult dose, then it is recommended to give the adult dose as over-treatment is better than under-treatment leading to death. The adrenaline will wear off after around fifteen minutes.

What Exactly Are Adrenaline Injectors?

Adrenaline injectors are devices that contain a single fixed dose of adrenaline. They have been designed for use by people who do not have any medical training yet need to provide First Aid. Adrenaline injectors are administered by placing the orange end containing the needle into the outer mid-thigh pressing down, and holding for a long count of three Mississippi’s. Autoinjectors can be given through a single layer of thin cotton clothing, not heavy denim jeans or personal protective equipment like overalls or boiler suits.

Unlike some injections, autoinjectors can be self-administered by the person entering anaphylaxis if they can catch their emergency situation quickly. Adrenaline pens have a short shelf life compared to some medications, lasting only one year before they are deemed out of date. That doesn’t mean the content of an expired autoinjector won’t work in an emergency, simply that the company that produced it will not guarantee that the product will do the job it was designed to do at the level intended. Instructions for use and an expiry date are clearly printed on the label of the device.

If you ever have to administer an adrenaline pen, keep the spent casing to give to the paramedics and the time you gave it or an approximation as close as you can get in minutes passed since you gave the injection if you don’t have a watch.

How Do I Use An Autoinjector Correctly

The hyperlink will take you to the ASCIA website, where you can watch short videos on correctly using and administering an Epi-Pen and an Anapen for people who need visual instruction.

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