Skip to content

    Allergies Health Center

    Select An Article

    Allergies: When to Use Your Auto-Injector

    Font Size

    One big reason auto-injectors are so important for people with allergies: You can't predict allergic reactions. They can be mild one time and serious the next. An attack can quickly become intense and sometimes lead to anaphylaxis -- a severe, often life-threatening reaction.

    An auto-injector, such as EpiPen or Auvi-Q, can treat it with a dose of epinephrine. It can help improve your breathing, raise your blood pressure if it's dropping, and reduce swelling.

    Recommended Related to Allergies

    Fall Allergies: Seasonal Tips to End the Itch

    Every fall, you're suddenly sneezing, coughing. Could it be fall allergies? It's certainly a possibility. Ragweed blooms profusely this time of year. Those lovely, falling leaves become moldy, rotting vegetation after they hit the ground. And no surprise it turns out many people are sensitive to both ragweed pollen and mold. Dust mites can also trigger fall allergy symptoms. Although they're present year-round, dust mites are stirred up by dirty ventilation systems. When you turn on your...

    Read the Fall Allergies: Seasonal Tips to End the Itch article > >

    When you have an allergic reaction, you may wonder if it's time to give yourself a shot with an auto-injector. Experts say even if there's any doubt, use it. It's much more dangerous not to get epinephrine when you're having a severe reaction than to get a dose you don't really need.

    Keep the Injector Handy and Ready

    The device won't do you any good if you don't have it with you. When you pick up your prescription at the drugstore, you'll get two injectors. Carry both with you at all times in case one doesn't work or you have a reaction needs a second dose.

    Extreme heat and cold can damage the medication in your auto-injectors, so store them at room temperature. Don't leave them in your car.

    The injectors are usually good for a year, so keep track of the date on the box.

    When to Take the Shot

    There are many cases when you, or someone you know, need to use an auto-injector, but two general ones are:

    • You have a life-threatening allergy and you know you've had contact with your allergy trigger. An example: If you have a peanut allergy and your boyfriend ate some peanuts and then kissed you, don't wait for symptoms -- take the epinephrine right away.
    • You have allergy symptoms -- even if you don't know the trigger.

    Those symptoms can include:

    What to Do After a Shot

    Take these steps after the first injection:

    • If there's no relief, take a second dose. You could wait as few as 5 minutes for a severe reaction or 15 minutes if it is mild.
    • Have someone call 911.
    • Massage the injection site for 10 seconds to stimulate blood vessels and help the body absorb the medication.
    • Go to the emergency room after an injection, even if your symptoms get better or seem to go away. Severe episodes can last 4 to 12 hours, and you never know at the beginning how long yours will last.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    man blowing nose
    Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
    Allergy capsule
    Breathe easier with these products.
    cat on couch
    Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
    Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
    Which ones affect you?

    blowing nose
    woman with sore throat
    lone star tick
    Woman blowing nose

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    cat lying on shelf
    Allergy prick test
    Man sneezing into tissue
    Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching