Epinephrine is a hormone made by the adrenal medulla and released by the adrenal glands. The hormone plays a very important role in the body’s attempt at an emergency response. For people with allergies, an epinephrine injection is used to counteract the life-threatening symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Why is epinephrine prescribed?

An epinephrine injection is used as part of an emergency protocol to treat severe allergic reactions. People can be allergic to a variety of different things such as latex, nuts, foods, insect bites or stings and more. Epinephrine works by relaxing the muscles in the airway and tightening up blood vessels, which will allow a person to breath better.

How should epinephrine be used?

Epinephrine comes in a pre-filled device that contains a solution to inject into the skin or muscle. The injection is usually given at the first sign of an allergic reaction. An epinephrine shot should be used exactly as your doctor prescribes it and it is important to not inject it more or less than recommended.

What is an Epi-Pen?

An Epi-Pen is an auto-injector which administers epinephrine or adrenaline and it can be given through self-administration, into the upper, fleshy part of the thigh. Adrenaline helps the heart beat stronger, relaxes and opens up the lungs, shrinks the blood vessels to counteract low blood pressure and helps to stop the inflammation process. An Epi-pen can help reverse a severe allergic reaction, but it should never be used as a substitute for medical care when needed.

What are the signs of a severe allergic reaction?

There are some common signs a person needs to be aware of concerning a severe allergic reaction. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include; itching, hives, difficulty breathing, wheezing, sneezing, skin redness, elevated heart rate, stomach pain, confusion, weakened pulse and faintness. A person should speak to their doctor about these symptoms, in order to better understand a severe allergic reaction and to learn how to use an epinephrine injection.

What are the side effects of epinephrine?

Epinephrine can cause a person to experience some side effects. When a person gets medical attention after having injected epinephrine, it is important to mention any of these possible side effects to a physician:

  • Sweating
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Uncontrollable shaking

Why is an Epi-Pen so expensive?

The cost of an Epi-Pen will differ depending on the distributor or pharmacy a person uses. According to Medscape.com, the average cost of an Epi-Pen is around $54.00, but it is a good idea to check other pharmacies. An epinephrine injector kit should include a dose of epinephrine. A dose in an injector kit usually will be between 300 ug and 500 ug. Epinephrine is a prescription medication and should only be taken exactly as prescribed.

How can a person reduce the cost of an Epi-Pen?

In order to save money on the cost of an Epi-Pen, a person should check with the pharmaceutical company for coupons. Another way to save money on an Epi-Pen is to ask your physician for free samples. Finally, it can be worthwhile to check out your State Prescription Assistance Program to see if you qualify for services; it will help alleviate the costs associated with an Epi-Pen.


For people with severe allergies, having an Epi-Pen handy can be a life-saver. It is important to know that once a person has received a dose of epinephrine, follow up medical care is always necessary. The effects of an Epi-Pen will wear off in around 10-20 minutes and the individual may require more treatment at that time.

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