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Adrenaline Autoinjector

Adrenalin Autoinjector (AAI)

What is an Adrenalin Autoinjector?

An Adrenalin Autoinjector is a device that can inject a dose of adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) into the body in case of a severe allergic reaction, also known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that can cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, tongue or throat, hives, vomiting, low blood pressure and loss of consciousness. Triggers of Anaphylaxis by various allergens, such as food, insect stings, medications or latex.

Adrenaline is a hormone that can reverse the effects of anaphylaxis by constricting the blood vessels, relaxing the airways, reducing the swelling and increasing the heart rate. It can save a life if a patient has an anaphylactic reaction. However, it needs to be given as soon as possible, preferably within minutes of exposure to the allergen.

How to use an adrenaline autoinjector?

There are different brands and types of adrenaline autoinjectors available, such as EpiPen™, Anapen™ and AuviQ™. They have different designs, doses and instructions, so patients need to be familiar with the specific device that they have been prescribed. Patients should also have an allergy action plan that tells them when and how to use their adrenaline autoinjector, and what to do after using it. The allergy action plan can be downloaded from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA).

The general steps for using an adrenaline autoinjector are:

Place the needle end against the outer mid-thigh muscle, which is the recommended injection site
  • Remove the Adrenalin Autoinjector from its container and check the expiry date and the appearance of the adrenaline solution. Do not use it if it is expired, discoloured or cloudy.
  • Hold the device firmly in your fist with the needle end pointing down. Do not touch the needle end or the trigger button.
  • Remove the safety cap or release mechanism. Some devices may have a blue or green cap or a red or black button that you need to pull off or press to activate the device.
  • Place the needle end against the outer mid-thigh muscle, the recommended injection site. You can inject through clothing, but avoid seams, pockets or belts.
  • Press the device firmly against the thigh until you hear or feel a click or a hiss. This means the injection has started.
  • Hold the device in place for 3 to 10 seconds, depending on the brand. retract the needle back into the device or cover it with a shield.
  • Remove the device from the thigh and massage the injection site for 10 seconds.
  • Check the device to see if the injection was complete. Some devices may have a window that shows if the needle is empty or a label that changes colour.
  • Dispose of the used Adrenalin Autoinjector in a sharp or hard plastic container. Do not reuse the device.
  • Note the time of the injection and call an ambulance. Tell the paramedics that you have had an anaphylactic reaction and show them your used device.
  • Stay calm and lie down with your legs raised, unless you have breathing difficulties. If so, you can sit up or stand.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or get worse after 5 minutes, you may need a second injection. Use a new device on the opposite thigh, if you have one.
  • Monitor your condition until the paramedics arrive. If you have an antihistamine or an asthma inhaler, you can use them as well, but they are not a substitute for adrenaline.

How to store and maintain the Adrenalin Autoinjector?

Patients should always carry two adrenaline autoinjectors with them, in case they need a second dose or one of them malfunctions. They should also have them easily accessible and not locked away in a bag or a cupboard. Patients can use a pouch, a belt or a wallet to carry them around their waist or in their pocket. They should also inform their family, friends, co-workers, teachers and caregivers that they have an adrenaline autoinjector and where they keep it. They can also wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that identifies their allergy and their need for adrenaline.

You should store your adrenaline autoinjector at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, heat and moisture. Do not refrigerate or freeze it, as this may damage the device or the adrenaline solution. Do not expose it to extreme temperatures, such as in a car glove box or near a heater. Check the expiry date and the adrenaline solution regularly. Replace the device if it is expired, discoloured or cloudy. Patients can register their device online with the manufacturer or a pharmacy to get a reminder when it is due to expire.

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