Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, naturally occurs in the body and creates a “fight or flight” response when people sense danger. When the body releases the hormone, epinephrine opens airways and acts as a bronchodilator and vasoconstrictor. It dilates pupils, increases heart rate, blood pressure and blood flow to muscles for increased strength, making it easier for us to stand our ground when under attack, or to flee to avoid attack.
During an asthma attack, cardiac event or allergic reaction, the body naturally releases epinephrine to reduce swelling, open airways for easier breathing and to maintain blood pressure and heart rate, which may have been compromised. In the event anaphylaxis occurs, synthetic epinephrine is the first line in emergency medical treatment. When injected into the body, synthetic epinephrine works to assist the body’s natural response against life threatening symptoms.
How Does Synthetic Epinephrine Work?
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can become life threatening if not treated immediately. Anaphylaxis causes airways to swell and narrow, and blood pressure to decrease. Synthetic epinephrine is administered to reduce or reverse those symptoms. It acts to constrict blood vessels, which in turn increases heart rate and raises blood pressure. It also opens airways making it easier to breath.
Synthetic epinephrine is administered through an auto injector that releases a pre-measured dosage of medication intramuscularly, injected directly into the thigh. It is important NOT to use synthetic epinephrine in the followings ways:
- Do not inject into buttocks, bloodvessels, fingers or toes.
- Do not attempt to take by mouth.
- Do not inhale, unless the medication is administered via an inhaler prescribed by your doctor.
It is also important to note that while other medications, like antihistamines, are used to treat allergic reactions, they will not help to reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis.
Where To Find Synthetic Epinephrine
Synthetic epinephrine can be found in most medications that treat asthma, allergic reaction and some cardiac events, including asthma inhalers and epinephrine auto-injectors. But you’ll need a prescription from a doctor in order to buy synthetic epinephrine.
Some common brands include Auvi-Q, EpiPen and EpiPen Jr, auto injector generic epinephrine for EpiPen, and auto injector generic epinephrine for Adrenaclick.
Common Side effects
Synthetic epinephrine can be very helpful for treating symptoms related to asthma and allergic reaction, but there are side effects associated with usage. The most common side effects include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Shaking or Tremors
- Severe headache
- Gastrointestinal Issues
It is extremely uncommon to have an allergy to synthetic epinephrine. But if you are allergic, synthetic epinephrine may not be a good option. Be sure to speak with your doctor about any possible allergies to epinephrine and to discuss whether any other medications you are currently taking may be contraindicated.
Is Synthetic Epinephrine Safe to Use During Pregnancy?
Currently, there is not a lot of information regarding the use of synthetic epinephrine while pregnant or breast feeding. There is insufficient data to associate its use with birth defects. Some research indicates that synthetic epinephrine is found in the breast milk of women who have used the medication. But there is not information on the effects of synthetic epinephrine on infants who are nursing. Be sure to speak with your doctor to determine whether the benefits of using synthetic epinephrine while pregnant or breast feeding outweighs any possible risk for you or your child.
Have you suffered an asthma attack or anaphylaxis and used synthetic epinephrine to reverse the symptoms? Please share your experiences with synthetic epinephrine in the comment section below.