According to allergy activists, more people should be trained to use an EpiPen, which delivers a lifesaving dose of epinephrine to reverse the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.
Parents of kids with allergies are well aware of the severity of food allergies and the value of carrying an epinephrine auto-injector. According toUS News,after Jane Able’s 4-year-old daughter, Ellie, was diagnosed with a serious allergy to peanuts, her mom began bringing an EpiPen everywhere. She soon realized that Ellie’s teachers, babysitters, and even her friends’ parents would need to know how to use the device. Able says her plan is now to “Carry a ‘trainer pen’ with me and have them practice using it before I’ll leave her.”
In most states, parents with kids who have food allergies are responsible for getting a prescription for epinephrine, and making sure that one is available at school for their child. There are several legislative efforts underway that would encourage schools to have epinephrine available to treat any student who is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, even if the child does not have a prescription for it.
According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, “Data shows that up to 25 percent of all epinephrine administrations that occur in the school setting involve students and adult staffers whose allergy was unknown at the time of the event.” It is also known that food allergies are on the rise. This information underscores the need for more people to know how to use epinephrine auto-injectors.
Dr. Roger Friedman, a pediatric allergist, explains that it is important that people having an allergic reaction receive epinephrine as quickly as possible. Because allergic reactions can cause difficulty breathing and other worrying symptoms, it is easy for people to become panicked instead of taking action, especially if they are not sure how to use the EpiPen.
Those who aren’t trained to spot the signs of an allergic reaction may not know that the person is experiencing one, or may doubt that the symptoms they see are caused by allergens. Dr. Friedman notes that some people worry about harming a child by administering unneeded epinephrine. However, he says, “Epinephrine pens are safe and may cause a temporarily fast heart rate; that’s about it,” if a shot is given when it’s not needed. Ellie Able’s mother always stresses this message to the adults caring for her daughter, saying “Even if there is a suspicion she needs it, please give it. Don’t hesitate. I will never be mad if you give the shot.”