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Article Details The Best Uses Of Epinephrine For Severe Allergic Reactions

For management of a serious (even life-threatening) allergic reaction, I have been teaching adults to administer epinephrine (adrenaline) by injection for years. This can be a lifesaving intervention. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community now concurs that EMS personnel should be trained to recognize a serious allergic reaction and be allowed to administer epinephrine. In a recent issue of the journal Prehospital Emergency Care (2011;15:570-576), there is an article by Jacobsen and Millin entitled “The Use of Epinephrine for Out-of-Hospital Treatment of Anaphylaxis: Resource Document for the National Association of EMS Physicians Position Statement” that details the use of epinephrine for this purpose.

The major new thrust of this document is to highlight the fact that the intramuscular (IM, directly into the muscle) injection route of administration is preferred, rather than the traditional primary recommendation to inject into the tissue space just under the skin layers (“subcutaneous”). This is because injection into the muscle tissue results in smoother and more reliable drug absorption, with higher peak therapeutic levels of the drug achieved sooner than with subcutaneous injection. The lateral thigh is often used for the IM injection; the outer upper arm is most commonly used for the subcutaneous injection. In an “autoinjector pen” used to administer epinephrine (often referred to by the brand name “EpiPen”), the needle may not be long enough to reach the muscle tissue of a large and/or obese person. However, if the epinephrine is injected into the subcutaneous tissue, it will in all likelihood still be effective, albeit perhaps not as quickly following the injection.

Here is advice about how to give epinephrine for a severe allergic reaction: Read more »

This post, Article Details The Best Uses Of Epinephrine For Severe Allergic Reactions, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

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