Asked by Samantha, Indiana
My daughter has a severe food allergy. I keep epinephrine with me at all times and have left injectors in her day care classroom but am worried about not having one if she needs it. Can I keep one in the car for emergencies?
Living Well Expert
Dr. Jennifer Shu
Children's Medical Group
Thanks for your question. Allergic reactions can be very serious, so I'm glad you are making every effort to be prepared. An epinephrine auto-injector (which comes by brand names such as EpiPen or TwinJect) can reverse the effects of severe allergies, most notably anaphylaxis, a rapidly progressing and life-threatening allergic reaction involving the whole body. Symptoms may include hives, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and shock.
Because anaphylaxis can occur quickly and without warning, it is ideal to keep the medicine with the child whenever possible. For young children, make sure adult caregivers carry epinephrine, and keep injectors at home and school as well.
As with any medication, you will want to check with the manufacturer's product information for details about proper storage. In general, epinephrine auto-injectors should be stored at room temperature (about 77 F or 25 C and between 59 and 86 F, or 15 and 30 C) away from light and replaced when they reach their marked expiration date or become cloudy or discolored (the solution is normally clear and colorless). Extremes in temperature -- either too hot or too cold -- may cause the unit to malfunction or lose effectiveness.
There are many products available for easier transport of epinephrine injectors including specially made insulated pouches with a key ring or belt strap that can be moved from person to person or purse to diaper bag, etc. It's also a good idea to have your child wear a medical alert bracelet listing her allergy(ies), contact information and procedures that should be followed in case of an emergency.
I encourage our readers to share their tips for dealing with severe allergies and epinephrine. If you have further questions, be sure to consult with your pediatrician, allergist and/or pharmacist. Good luck!
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