You have been judicious in managing your child’s food allergies. You diligently read food labels, prepare allergy friendly foods and have created a supportive atmosphere for your child to grow and thrive. An emergency action plan is in place, all caregivers and school officials are aware of your child’s food allergy and protocols to prevent accidental exposure, and an epinephrine auto injector is on hand if an anaphylactic event occurs. But is the auto-injector on hand the best one for your child?
All Auto-injectors Are Not the Same
Parents these days have a large variety of epinephrine auto-injectors to choose from for the first step in treating anaphylaxis. Although the medication inside auto-injectors functions the same way to treat anaphylaxis, the mechanical features of various auto-injectors differ. Choosing the right auto-injector for your child may depend on whether additional physical limitations are present that would make administration difficult, other illnesses your child may suffer from, or contraindications to ingredients.
Depending on the brand of auto-injector, the markings, operation and dosage may be different; some even talk. Speak with your child’s doctor to determine which auto-injector is the best choice for your child. After choosing an auto-injector, be sure to read the instructions included with the device to ensure proper usage and dose.
Training Is Key
Talk to the pharmacist or your child’s doctor to answer any questions you may have about the prescribed auto-injector and get instructions on how to operate it properly to administer medication. Many physicians have access to auto-injector “trainers” (devices designed to practice administration instructions that do not contain medication). Try to use trainers to practice with your child so that he or she is able to self-administer medication if necessary. Since each auto-injector brand is different, be sure to train each time the prescription is changed.
In addition, try to meet with school officials and ensure they are aware of any changes to your child’s auto-injector prescription, and are informed on proper usage.
Price Tags May Vary
Though the medication is the same, cost of different epinephrine auto-injectors varies significantly and may or may not be covered by prescription insurance. Manufacturers are aware of how important epinephrine is in the treatment of anaphylaxis and of the limitations of many prescription coverage plans. As a result, several manufacturers offer payment assistance plans designed to make epinephrine auto-injectors more affordable for those with limited or no prescription coverage.
The Food Allergy Awareness and Education Network (FARE) has created a list of popular epinephrine auto-injector brands currently offering payment assistance. Restrictions to these offers may apply so be sure to read the information carefully and talk with the pharmacist and your child’s doctor to determine if a plan may work for you and your family.
Allergies and Contraindications to Auto-Injector Ingredients
Although epinephrine is the main active ingredient in epinephrine auto-injectors, each brand contains various other ingredients including sulfites. Be sure to talk with your child’s doctor about any allergies your child may have to ensure he or she is not allergic to any of the other ingredients. Additionally, ingredients may have contraindications to other medications your child may be taking.
Even if your child has another allergy, his or her doctor may still prescribe the auto-injector since it is a life-saving medication and the benefits far outweigh the risks. However, that is a decision for you and your child’s doctor to make. Talking with your doctor can ensure any potential risks are avoided or minimized.
Many parents wish to keep epinephrine auto-injectors close at all times in the event of an emergency while away from home. Auto-injectors are often stored in emergency kits left in the trunk of the family car so the medication is never forgotten or left behind. However, the trunk of a car can become very hot or cold depending upon the climate. According to the National Institute of Health, epinephrine auto-injectors should never be stored in a vehicle. An auto-injector should be stored in the plastic carrying tube it came in, tightly closed, at room temperature and away from light, excess heat and moisture.