Webinar Recording and Recap: Overcoming Obstacles to Carrying and Using Self-Injectable Epinephrine

The Nov. 30, 2016 webinar, Overcoming Obstacles to Carrying and Using Self-Injectable Epinephrine, featured Dr. Scott Sicherer, the Elliot and Rosyln Jaffe professor of allergy, immunology and pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Dr. Sicherer, who serves as a member of FARE’s Clinical Advisory Board, kicked off his presentation with the following statement, “The bottom line is that for treatment of anaphylaxis we need to have prompt injection of epinephrine.”

Despite this bottom line, Dr. Sicherer noted that there are a number of obstacles that stand in the way of carrying and using epinephrine in cases of anaphylaxis, such as:

  • Misunderstanding of anaphylaxis and when to inject
  • Bad rationale for delay in administering such as waiting for the antihistamine to work, or not wanting to go to the ER
  • Emotional barriers such as embarrassment and feeling different
  • Needle phobia
  • Unable to activate the device properly
  • Not carrying epinephrine because it is inconvenient or not expecting a reaction

The second portion of the webinar focused on risk-taking and coping strategies of adolescents and young adults with food allergies. Dr. Sicherer reviewed findings from a study on the risk-taking behaviors of 174 adolescents. The results of the study noted several observations and suggestions related to carrying and administering epinephrine amongst teens:

Observation: Misperception of “anaphylaxis”
Suggestions: Teach symptoms, not just word “anaphylaxis”

Observation: Low rate of injector use
Suggestions: Educate about treatment circumstances and review technique and actions to take

Observation: Rates of carrying vary by social circumstances, perceived risks and convenience
Suggestions: Impress need for consistency; reminders to carry during sport/social activities; carrying alternatives such as a purse/holder

Observation: Emotional risks, feeling “different” or “less concerned”
Suggestions: Address bullying and discuss emotional impact with peer involvement and education

In conclusion, Dr. Sicherer confirmed that epinephrine is safe, it can reduce the risk of hospitalization or more doses, and that it will make you feel better.  And while there are obstacles to carrying and using self-injectable epinephrine, there are also solutions to these obstacles, such as: emphasizing safety and benefits of epinephrine, addressing solutions to improve carrying/access, reviewing symptoms and technique for injection, practicing scenarios of when to inject, addressing emotional barriers and peer education.

Additional resources on Anaphylaxis and Epinephrine are available here.

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