How To Use Epinephrine Autoinjector - EpiPen

Editor: V. Dimov, M.D., Allergist/Immunologist, Cleveland Clinic, Florida

How to use EpiPen. Epinephrine auto-injector (EAI) in the form of a device (EpiPen) was first introduced in 1980.

How To Use an EpiPen video from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio:

The action plans for food allergy and anaphylaxis include the use of epineprine as first line of treatment.

Key points:

- There is no cure for food allergies at this time

- 8% of U.S. children under 18 have at least one food allergy

- Epinephrine is the first line life-saving medication in severe food allergic reaction. Always carry an EpiPen with you, and remember these simple memory rules in severe food allergic reaction:

- "No Epi, no eat-y" (always carry an EpiPen with you, don't sit down to eat if you don't have an EpiPen available)

- "If it's more than the skin, the Epi goes in" (only mild hives may respond to antihistamine, for anything else you may need an EpiPen)

"How to C.A.R.E. for students with food allergies" is a free online course available at

Tips for managing food allergy (MJA, 2004):

- Always carry an epineprine auto-injector (EAI)
- Always read food labels
- Ask questions about food preparation (be aware of the risk of cross-contamination)
- No label/don't eat
- No Epi/don't eat
- Tell friends about a serious food allergy
- Tell friends if feeling unwell, especially after eating

Eleanor Garrow, Vice President of Education and Outreach for FAAN, talks about living with food allergies, 2010.

FAANPAL | 2010 | A presentation of food allergy basics by Eleanor Garrow, Vice President of Education and Outreach for FAAN.

Food allergy management (click to enlarge the image).

Related information

Food Allergy Information from ACAAI
Free pamphlets (brochures) from National Institutes of Health - Publications Order Form.
Food allergy and anaphylaxis training - free at
Managing Food Allergy - COFAR video, 2012.
Food Allergy: An Overview for Patients (PDF)
Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Executive Summary of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel Report (PDF)
Videos from the KFA channel on YouTube -"Kids With Food Allergies"
Cetirizine is better than diphenhydramine (Benadryl) in the treatment of acute food-induced allergic reactions. JACI, 2011.
"Epinephrine is to anaphylaxis as an AED (defibrillator) is to someone suffering cardiac arrest. Life-saving." Forbes, 2012.

Published: 01/29/2011
Updated: 01/12/2017

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