Epinephrine Advice

Want to read more? Check out the archives to tide you over.

Dear Alexander,

I am a little afraid of epinephrine. The epinephrine auto-injector looks a lot bigger than the shots you get in a doctor's office. Is the needle really big? What does the medicine do to you?

The plastic case around the needle of the epinephrine auto-injector may make you wonder if the needle is just as big, but it is not. Depending on the type of auto-injector, the needle is typically 1/2 or 5/8-inch long (looking at a ruler will help you understand these sizes). Getting a shot of epinephrine doesn't hurt any more than a shot you would get in a doctor’s office, and some describe it as a "pinch"-like feeling when it is used. 

When you are having an allergic reaction, epinephrine can help you feel better right away. It works to open up your airways so that you can breathe easier, and it makes your heart beat a little faster so that blood flows properly in your body. When you get a shot of epinephrine, you may feel your heart beating faster, or you may feel a little dizzy. These are common side effects. But it's not dangerous. When someone uses epinephrine for an allergic reaction, that person should go to the hospital so that doctors can make sure the allergic reaction is under control.  An adult should then take care to properly dispose of the used epinephrine auto-injector (it should never be placed in the trash) by dropping it off at a pharmacy or hospital.

Good luck!

Your friend,

Alexander Signature
Back to the archives

The information above is not designed to take the place of a doctor’s instructions. Patients are urged to contact a doctor for specific information regarding guidelines for care.

Print This Page Print This Page