What is an Auto-Injector?

Video 11 of 30
2 min 17 sec

More than 50 million Americans experience some type of allergy each year, so it is relatively likely that you will come into contact with someone who may be at risk of a severe allergic reaction and then going on to experience anaphylaxis. The main drug used to treat anaphylaxis is called either epinephrine or adrenaline. Our bodies are constantly making small amounts of adrenaline, and it is also known as the “fight or flight” chemical. You may have heard of having a pit in your stomach when you are nervous or scared, and this is actually due to excess adrenaline being made to be ready to either “fight”, continue with what you are doing, or “flight”, run away and don’t do it.

Auto-injectors contain a pre-measured dose of adrenaline, which is much more than the usual body produces. When injected into the body, the adrenaline is quickly fired into the bloodstream and helps to open back up the airway of the patient, allowing them to breathe again. This is why someone with serious allergies should always carry an auto-injector with them, on their person.

Using conventional syringes takes way too much time, and if you yourself are having an anaphylactic attack, there is no way you will cope with drawing a drug out of a bottle in the same way a trained doctor would do. Also, the fact that auto-injectors contain a pre-measured dose of adrenaline means there is no chance of either not injecting enough in, or going to the other extreme and overdosing. This is why auto-injectors are so useful.

There are many types of auto-injectors, and the most common ones are very easy to handle and use. They are available to anyone who could be susceptible to anaphylaxis. Even though there are many types of auto injector, they should all be administered into the top quarter of the thigh. The main auto injectors being used are the EpiPen®, the AUVI-Q®, the Adrenaclick®, and a number of generics. We will look into each of them in more detail, as well as cover the differences between them in separate videos.