Are You Waiting to Administer Epinephrine During Anaphylaxis?

A new study by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation has shown that anaphylaxis (life threatening allergic reaction) is more common than previously thought.  Rates thought to be about 1 in 50 (1.6%) Americans could be closer to 1 in 20 (5.1%).

What has also come to light in this study is that the vast majority of those experiencing anaphylaxis were unprepared for proper treatment with only 11% of reactions getting epinephrine for treatment.  Given that immediate epinephrine is the treatment standard, why are so many of us unprepared?

I definitely know of allergic people, particularly adults, who neglect to carry their epinephrine with them and would be in grave trouble if they were to have a reaction.  I’m not sure that’s the reason why the rate of treatment is so low though. From personal experience, I’d be willing to bet that it’s because treatment with epinephrine was delayed.

I’m talking about phoning the doctor, giving Benadryl, watching my allergic child carefully (including a flashlight in the bedroom), and waiting to see if symptoms got worse or additional symptoms will show up.  It actually still scares me (and creates some guilt) knowing that we truly should have given the epi-pen.  I thought at the time that I didn’t want to overreact and scare my child with the needle.  Instead, we still ended up in the hospital and on major doses of prednisone.  I will never do it again.

The reality is that in the cases where people died from anaphylaxis and epinephrine actually was administered, it was given too late to save the person.  So rather than waiting to see if symptoms become more severe or more symptoms show up, the wisest course of action is to not wait at all but to administer epinephrine immediately when symptoms occur.  As we tell our family, friends and teachers that we’ve trained on anaphylaxis response, you truly are better safe than sorry.

The last reaction my daughter had, she gave herself the epi-pen (for the first time) right after she felt tingling in her mouth and realized she’d had kiwi.  I’d much rather have the ambulance ride and hospital experience we had that night; an adrenaline-hyped child who only needed to stay for a 4 hour observation period as she safely navigated her reaction.

Do you know all of the symptoms of anaphylaxis?  Make sure you’re up on your knowledge by checking out our Food Allergies Education Page at Libre Naturals.

Alana Elliott is the Founder and President of Libre Naturals (formerly Nonuttin’ Foods), a gluten free and allergy friendly food company she founded in response to her family’s many food allergies and immune disorders.  Please check out Libre Naturals at: