Allergies in Children: Giving an Epinephrine Shot to a Child
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. If your child has had a severe allergic
reaction in the past, you know how frightening it can be. Symptoms of breathing
problems, itching, and swelling can come on quickly and become
life-threatening. Giving your child an epinephrine shot can slow down or stop
an allergic reaction. That's why it is important to have epinephrine with you at all times and to know the right way
to use it. It could save your child's life someday.
Your epinephrine injector may have a black or orange tip. Grasp the epinephrine shot injector in your
hand with the black (or orange) tip pointing down. Form a fist around the injector. Do not
touch the tip.
With the other hand, pull off the gray (or blue) cap.
Hold the black or orange tip close to your child's outer thigh. Jab the tip firmly into your child's thigh. Jab through clothing if you must, but bare skin is best. The
injector should go straight into the skin, at a 90-degree angle to the thigh. Do not give the shot into a buttock or a
injector in your child's outer thigh for 10 seconds. Note: It is normal for most of the liquid to be left in
the injector. Do not try to inject the remaining liquid.
Remove the injector, and place your hand on the area where the medicine entered
the skin. Rub the area for about 10 seconds. Have your child take the antihistamine tablet in the allergy kit.
Put the used injector, needle-end first, into the storage tube that comes with your injector. Do not bend the needle. Screw on the cap of the storage tube. Take your child to the emergency room, and take the used injector with you.
Your child should feel the effects of the medicine almost
right away. These may include a rapid heartbeat and nervousness as well as
improved breathing. The benefits of the shot usually last 10 to 20
In some severe cases, you may need to give a second shot.
Your doctor will explain when a second shot is needed. Make sure you
understand, and ask questions if you are not sure. Too much epinephrine can
cause serious side effects, such as difficulty breathing.
What do I do after I give the shot?
Immediately call 911. Tell the
operator that you gave your child a shot and that more epinephrine needs to be
brought in the ambulance. Or if a hospital is close by, take your child to the
emergency room. At the hospital, give the doctor or nurse the used injector. It
will be checked and then disposed of properly.
Your child may need to be observed in the hospital for several
hours to make sure symptoms don't return. If your child is discharged from the
hospital sooner, sit in the waiting room.
If your child has any heart problems, be sure to tell
the doctor or nurse.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.