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I Have Food Allergies. How Many Epi-Pens Do I Need?

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Updated August 28, 2011

Question: I Have Food Allergies. How Many Epi-Pens Do I Need?
Answer: Most people with food allergies have a hard enough time remembering to carry one Epi-Pen, so the thought of carrying two may sound overwhelming. Unfortunately, many people with severe food allergies may need more than one dose of epinephrine if they accidentally eat the food to which they’re allergic.

Food allergies are a common and potentially life-threatening medical condition. Nearly 30,000 emergency room visits occur every year in the United States as a result of food allergies, and it is estimated that 150 people die from their food allergies every year. As a result, it is very important that a person is prepared to treat an allergic reaction from accidentally eating the culprit food.

Recent studies show that up to 25% of people of with allergic reactions to foods require a second dose of epinephrine, especially those with reactions to peanuts and treenuts. So, I recommend that people with severe food allergies carry at least 2 Epi-Pens in case an accidental food exposure results in an allergic reaction.

Alternatively, a Twin-Ject device offers two doses of epinephrine in one device; this product may be a better choice for those people at risk for severe reactions from their food allergies.

Check with your doctor for instructions on when and if a second dose of epinephrine should be used for severe allergic reactions. Your doctor will likely discuss possible scenarios that may require a second dose of epinephrine. These may include severe reactions that continue to worsen despite the first dose of epinephrine, as well as reactions that don't improve within 5 to 15 minutes after the first dose of epinephrine.

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Source:

Oren E, Banerji A, Clark S, Camargo CA Jr. Food-Induced Anaphylaxis and Repeated Epinephrine Treatments. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2007; 99: 429-32.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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