medical IDs for anaphylaxis and EpiPen use

Medical IDs for Anaphylaxis and EpiPen Use

The confidence to live with the risk of anaphylaxis and EpiPen use

When an allergic reaction becomes severe, a person is experiencing anaphylaxis. This kind of life-threatening allergic reaction is related to certain chemicals in the body being released in large amounts in response to an allergen.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the most common triggers of anaphylaxis are foods, insect stings, medications, and latex.

Anaphylaxis is a major concern for people with allergic reactions. Even if you’ve never had an anaphylactic event, having allergies can put you at risk for one.

Knowing how to avoid triggers, identify symptoms of anaphylaxis, and treat an anaphylactic reaction with an EpiPen is extremely important if you have allergies or if you have experienced anaphylaxis in the past.

Because folks may not have time to self inject an EpiPen, medical IDs for anaphylaxis and EpiPens use can be truly life saving.

How MedicAlert protects those living with anaphylaxis and EpiPen use

One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with anaphylaxis and EpiPen use, their families and caregivers.

24/7 Emergency Response

Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.

Digital Health Profile

All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.

Emergency Contact Notification

In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.

Patient Instructions

Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.

Pair a medical ID for anaphylaxis and EpiPen use with the protection plan that’s right for you.

What exactly is anaphylaxis?

The World Allergy Organization defines anaphylaxis as a sudden and potentially life-threatening hypersensitivity reaction, meaning the body is overreacting to an allergen exposure. This reaction can be mild, moderate, or severe and reaches its maximum level within 5-30 minutes. The stages of anaphylaxis follow a pattern:

  • Exposure to an allergen
  • Reaction and symptoms caused by chemicals released by the body
  • Release of adrenaline by the body to counter the symptoms

The best way to treat anaphylaxis is with a medication called epinephrine. It is commonly referred to as an EpiPen, because of the design of the injection device that allows a person to self-administer a dose of epinephrine when they notice symptoms of anaphylaxis. An EpiPen helps to stop the body’s overreaction to an allergen.

In the United States, at least 1 in 50 people have anaphylaxis. In one survey, 11% of people who reported having anaphylaxis also reported using an EpiPen to treat their reaction.

I’ve had life threatening food allergies for 31 years. I’ve survived anaphylactic shock many times, and a MedicAlert bracelet has been with me nearly every day since I was 10.

Sara, MedicAlert member living with food allergies

What causes anaphylaxis?

In anaphylaxis, your body’s normal immune system defense mechanisms react to an allergen exposure like an invader. Histamines and other chemicals are released to attack the allergen the body is viewing as a serious threat.

Inflammation and this chemical release, combined with the body’s adrenaline response, can cause breathing to become difficult and blood pressure to drop. Sometimes, the first symptom of anaphylaxis is for the person to become unconscious.

Not everyone will react to every allergen. These are some details on the most common allergens known to cause an anaphylactic reaction, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) :

  • Medications like penicillin and other antibiotics, aspirin, aspirin-related products, and insulin
  • Foods– the most common culprits are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, soy, and wheat
  • Latex
  • Insect stings or bites
  • Rarely, physical activity in what is known as “exercise-induced anaphylaxis”

What is an EpiPen?

As previously mentioned, an EpiPen helps to stop an anaphylactic reaction. It is used to self-inject the medication epinephrine into a muscle, usually the thigh, in an emergency. Anyone who has a history of anaphylaxis or is at risk for anaphylaxis should have an EpiPen available at all times.

It is important to use an EpiPen as soon as you suspect symptoms of anaphylaxis and to then call 911.

What to engrave on your MedicAlert medical ID for anaphylaxis and EpiPen use:

MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for anaphylaxis and EpiPen use should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:

  • Medical history (especially anaphylaxis)
  • Medications (especially EpiPen)
  • Allergies
  • Any other medical information that’s important to share quickly
medical IDs for anaphylaxis and EpiPen

Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for anaphylaxis and EpiPen.

What are the symptoms and complications of anaphylaxis?

Symptoms of anaphylaxis are a result of the effects of the body’s immune system reaction. These symptoms can be present in multiple body systems. Not everyone will have all the symptoms of anaphylaxis. These are some symptoms you should watch for:

Mild symptoms

As soon as you suspect you are experiencing even mild symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should use your epi-pen. Mild symptoms include:

  • Skin rashes, itching, or hives
  • Feeling like something awful is about to happen
  • Stomach pain, bloating, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Uterine cramps

Moderate symptoms

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  • Pale skin
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Cough/clearing the throat

Severe symptoms

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty or noisy breathing (wheezing)  
  • Dizziness and/or fainting

Complications from anaphylaxis can lead to death. Because the symptoms can progress rapidly and within minutes, sometimes this can mean that a person isn’t able to self-inject their EpiPen before having confusion or fainting.

Anyone living with potential anaphylaxis, and prescribed an EpiPen, should take extra steps to protect themselves by using a medical ID for anaphylaxis and EpiPen use to alert first responders to their allergy history. If you experience anaphylaxis and cannot communicate, a MedicAlert ID and Protection Plan membership can be your voice in an emergency, allowing first responders to rapidly assist you with an epinephrine injection.

How do you diagnose anaphylaxis?

If you have allergies, allergic reactions, or have ever experienced anaphylaxis, it’s important to see an allergy specialist (allergist) for further testing. Although no test can predict how severe an allergic reaction might be, knowing what allergens to avoid can help you avoid a potential anaphylactic reaction.

Because anaphylaxis is a hypersensitivity reaction it’s possible that having a mild to moderate allergic reaction could increase your risk of a more severe anaphylactic reaction to the same allergen in the future. This is because your immune system remembers the previous exposure and then overreacts when it encounters it again.

Be sure to let your doctor know about any allergic reactions you’ve experienced in the past. This can help guide allergy testing and whether to prescribe an EpiPen for possible anaphylaxis.

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) logo

We’re proud to partner with the Asthma & Allergy Foundation to provide tools and resources to help people with asthma and allergies live better lives.

How do you treat, manage, and live with anaphylaxis?

Epinephrine is the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis, and the AAFA recommends that you should always carry two EpiPens to treat any symptoms. It’s also important to know that even after treatment with an EpiPen, symptoms can return later.

This is known as biphasic anaphylaxis, and if you experience anaphylaxis you should seek medical care to be monitored for any symptoms that might return, even after a dose of epinephrine.

Along with being prepared by carrying EpiPens, consulting with an allergist as described above can help you identify which allergens to avoid. Each person’s allergies and risk level will be different.

Living with anaphylaxis can feel scary, but being sure to always wear a medical ID for anaphylaxis and EpiPen can give you peace of mind. This extra layer of protection could save your life in an emergency by alerting first responders to your anaphylaxis and EpiPen use.

How medical IDs for anaphylaxis and EpiPen use combined with MedicAlert  Membership provide peace of mind

  • We’re your voice:  If you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your anaphylaxis and EpiPen use and any medications you’re taking.

  • 24/7 emergency protection:  In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.

  • Always connected:  You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.

  • Live with peace of mind and confidence:  MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with anaphylaxis and EpiPen use, knowing we’ve got you covered. 
DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information in this article is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.