Did you know that 30% of adults have allergies in the U.S.? Do you currently suffer from allergies and are wondering what happens during a serious allergic reaction?
In this article, you’ll discover how does epinephrine work? Read on to discover how it can save your life during a serious reaction and why it’s important to carry with you.
What Is Epinephrine?
Epinephrine is also called adrenaline. This is a hormone that’s secreted by the medulla of the adrenal glands. It’s used to increase glucose levels in the blood and cardiac output. It’s released during acute stress to prepare you for fight or flight.
It’s similar to norepinephrine. When comparing epinephrine vs norepinephrine, the only difference is it being in the nitrogen side chain in the methyl group. The amine in both substances is attached to a catechol group. Catechol means it’s a structure that’s unique to the catecholamines.
They both have stimulatory components of the sympathetic nervous system. The main difference between epinephrine and norepinephrine is that noradrenaline works mainly on the alpha receptors to maintain and increase blood pressure. Epinephrine has more wide-ranging effects, being released only during stress. Norepinephrine is another name for noradrenaline.
What Is an Epinephrine Injection?
Epinephrine narrows blood vessels and opens your airways in the lungs. This can halt low blood pressure, hives, skin itching, wheezing, and other symptoms from an allergic reaction. It can treat an allergic reaction to foods, drugs, stings, bites, and other allergic reactions.
Instead of using medicine for less severe allergic reactions, you can find certain natural remedies. Always consult with your doctor before beginning natural remedies or medications.
Epinephrine Side Effects
Some common side effects of epinephrine are:
- Nervous or anxious
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fast heartbeat
- Breathing problems
As with any medication, there can be other symptoms not listed. If you have a question about side effects, contact your doctor. If you experience redness, swelling, warmth, pain, or other signs of an infection, contact your doctor immediately.
Certain drugs can interact with epinephrine including herbal products, vitamins, and medicines. Speak with your doctor about current medications before starting this treatment.
Epinephrine Injection Use
You’ll need to receive treatment and observation when you use epinephrine. Contact emergency medical attention immediately. If it has expired, has particles in it, or changed colors, don’t use it. Don’t freeze or refrigerate your medication or store it in your car. Always keep it at room temperature.
Don’t inject it into the muscles of your buttocks or into a vein. Inject it into the fleshy outer portion of your thigh. If you inject it into your feet or hands, this can lead to a decrease in blood flow to those areas. It can then lead to numbness.
If you overdose, you can experience a severe headache, numbness, blurred vision, or pounding in your ears or neck. You can also experience a change in your heartbeat, shortness of breath, cough, or chest pain. Contact your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing an overdose.
How Does Epinephrine Function?
Did you know that 1 in 10 people in the U.S. are allergic to some type of food? The epinephrine mechanism of action reverses anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) by stimulating your adrenoreceptors. This increases your resistance to peripheral vasculature. It then leads to improved blood pressure and reduced swelling. When it stimulates b2 adrenoreceptors, this is when bronchodilation happens.
Bronchodilation then leads to reduced swelling. It also relaxes the muscles around the airways which helps your airways open up. It also prevents the release of any other allergic chemicals.
How to Use an EpiPen
You’ll want to first remove the EpiPen from its tube. Hold the barrel of the pen in your dominant hand so the orange tip is pointing downward. Don’t have your fingers close to either side of the pen. Next, have your other hand pull straight up and remove the blue safety release. Make sure not to bend or twist it.
Have the orange tip of the pen against the middle of your upper thigh, and push until you hear a click. Hold it in place for at least 3 seconds. Next, you can remove it from your thigh. Massage the area of the injection for 10 seconds with your fingers. Contact emergency care or call 911 immediately.
The tips above can be performed on yourself or another person. If you need to administer it through clothing, that’s possible. Make sure the person is sitting or laying down since that’ll make it easier to inject.
Administering to a Child
If you need to administer it to a child, you’ll want to first remove the EpiPen from its carrier tube. Next, grip the pen with your dominant hand and have the orange tip pointing downward. Don’t have your fingers covering either end. Take your other hand and have it pull the blue safety release off. Ensure you don’t twist or bend it.
You’ll want to then have the child in a position to receive the injection. For smaller children, you might need to hold them in your lap. For older children, have them lay or sit down. Ensure you’re holding their leg gently but firmly.
Have the orange tip of the pen against the middle part of their upper thigh. Push until you hear a clicking sound. Hold the pen for at least 3 seconds before you remove it. Massage the injection area for 10 seconds with your hand. Next, call emergency care or 911.
Learning How Does Epinephrine Work?
Now that you learned how does epinephrine work, you better understand why it’s so vital during allergic reactions. Would you like to learn more about health and wellness? Check out our other articles.