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I thought I knew when to use the epipen. Clearly I don't! Hope this helps someone.

(31 Posts)
trixymalixy Mon 20-Jul-15 22:13:34

A few weeks ago school managed to let DS (8) eat something with sesame in it. They called me around midday saying he had asked for some piriton, but he was ok and they didn't need me to get him. 45 mins later they called back as he was being sick and asked me to get him. I said to give more piriton and I'd be there as soon as I could.

I arrived about 45 mins later and DS looked awful, he was grey in colour and his arms were covered in hives. He was quite cheerful though and joking with his friend he followed me out the door to the car.

He was following behind me and seemed to stumble catching onto the rail. I looked round concerned but he was walking again and talking to me. This was the only point at which I considered epipens, but he was breathing fine no swelling or anything. It wasn't until later he told me his vision had gone all purple. Had I known this at the time I would definitely have used the epipen!

I got him home and he was sick a bit more and looked awful, but eventually perked up.

At his appointment on Friday the consultant asked about recent reactions. I told her about the above and she confirmed what with hindsight I had realised, that I should have used the epipen. She said DS was teetering on the brink of anaphylaxis.

Thankfully we were lucky and piriton worked.

I thought the decision to use the epipen would have been a bit more clear cut, that DS would be having difficulty breathing or there would be more swelling.

I knew about blood pressure dropping during anaphylaxis, but didn't realise that grey/blue skin was a classic sign. DS also knows now to tell me straight away if he's dizzy or faint or his vision goes funny again.

I feel awful though, I feel I failed him.

I thought I'd share this with you in case it helps someone. I'm hoping there won't be a next time, but I feel I've learned a lot from this experience and better prepared to deal with it.If in doubt use the epipen!!

Just thankful that DS is fine!

Todayisnottheday Mon 20-Jul-15 22:35:19

Yes that is helpful, thank you. I had a vague idea that the need for an epipen would be obvious and dramatic. I'm off to have a read up smile

Glad to hear your son is ok. Please don't feel you've failed him though. Everything is a learning process, what's important is that you learn from these experiences!

Justwhy Mon 20-Jul-15 22:38:47

Thank you for sharing. As a teacher this is something I live in fear of. Not the actual using of one, more the knowing when to use one/not using one/using one unnecessarily. We have epipen training of course but it still worries me.

Your son is now fine. In which case you haven't failed him at all and have both learned an important lesson for next time. (Which will hopefully never happen.)

trixymalixy Mon 20-Jul-15 22:42:58


Yes I thought it would be dramatic and obvious too.

The consultant said there are two scenarios in which to use the epipen, the breathing difficulties/swelling that everyone imagines when they hear anaphylaxis is one and blood pressure dropping/fainting/dizzy is the other.

Zebda Mon 20-Jul-15 22:50:30

My DD has a severe sesame seed allergy, and since the first anaphylactic shock episode, I have faithfully carried the pen, ensured that school have them etc. I've not had to use it yet (touch wood!), but have to say that the moment I had seen hives, I would have reacted more strongly than you did. Probably I'd have taken her to A&E at that point. If I could not have got to A&E on seeing a large patch (not just a small localised patch) of hives, I would have administered the pen...

When she had the very dramatic analphylactic shock incident that caused us to know about the allergy in the first place, hives was the last symptom before she started to swell around the lips and throat.

Zebda Mon 20-Jul-15 22:55:12

Sorry, OP I just wanted to add, thank you for posting, it's all theory until the actual incident happens isn't it?

It's been 5 years since my DD's big incident, I can well imagine hesitating before using the pen in indecision, I have never actually had to put my theories to the test (we've had a couple of minor scares that cleared up v v quickly. Reminders like this (and the tip re grey skin) really help refresh the mind. Glad your DS is ok flowers

RunsWithScissors Mon 20-Jul-15 22:56:49

Thanks for that OP. It's so hard to know sometimes what is the right course of action, isn't it?
Glad you shared the experience (although wish you hadn't Haiti have the experience itself).

magicpuppy Mon 20-Jul-15 22:56:57

Thanks trixy. I have a dd with some mild food allergies and asthma.

I had the same issue with asthma attacks when dd was first diagnosed. I always thought that an asthma attack was something quite dramatic and very obvious and it came as a big surprise to me when dd's worst attacks were very quiet. She is a silent wheezer so I really had to learn to know her signs.

RunsWithScissors Mon 20-Jul-15 22:57:49

Haiti? Flipping autocorrect. hadn't had to have

trixymalixy Mon 20-Jul-15 23:03:52

Magicpuppy, my DS is a silent wheezer too. When our GP packed us off to the children's hospital when he had his worst asthma attack I was convinced they'd send us straight home. Instead they got him on oxygen ASAP and whisked him through to a bed. He was in for 5 days sad.

Thankfully we are now more alert to the signs.

trixymalixy Mon 20-Jul-15 23:07:33

Lol at Haiti!

Zebda, I'd seen hives like that on DS several times before, so they didn't make me think epipen.

magicpuppy Mon 20-Jul-15 23:09:59

Sounds familiar trixy. The same has happened to us.

I feel much more confident these days. My dd is a real chatterbox (she's 9 now) and I now know that if she goes quiet things are going downhill quickly.

twofalls Mon 20-Jul-15 23:11:02

Thanks that is helpful to know. Like everyone else I imagine epipen use tone dramTic.

My consultant said the epipen can't cause harm so if undecided, then better to use it.

meglet Mon 20-Jul-15 23:16:06

really useful, thanks.

I've never needed to use ds's epi-pen and also assumed it would be more dramatic. I'll pass the word around to family.

elephantoverthehill Mon 20-Jul-15 23:24:10

I am updating my first aid in Sept. mostly over this issue as I was given training about 8 years ago. I just want to clarify with the wise Mumsnetters and their knowledge that it is better to be safe than sorry and there is no problem with use of an epipen if it really isn't needed in a particular incidence?

zen1 Mon 20-Jul-15 23:26:51

Thank you for posting. DS has a severe peanut allergy but we've never had to use the epipen. Last time he had a reaction a few years ago, his heart rate went up and he lay on the bathroom floor saying he felt strange. His lips went bright red, but because there was no swelling / breathing difficulties, I just gave him piriton and didn't consult the doctor till after the event (hadn't been prescribed epipen at that stage). Very useful info.

AfroPuffs Mon 20-Jul-15 23:38:09

Well the body is going into shock, so going an odd colour, fast breathing, sweating profusely etc....use it immediately. I use an epipen and have had anaphylaxis three times.

twofalls Tue 21-Jul-15 17:20:12

elephant, that is what the consultant and the allergy nurse said - if in doubt use it. You won't do any damage and its better to use it when not needed than not use it when it is needed.

bananaandcustard Tue 21-Jul-15 19:37:45

Does the school have piriton and epi pens to hand? and have an emergency treatment plan?

elephantoverthehill Tue 21-Jul-15 22:53:19

Thankfully the first Aid course I am booked on is at the start of September, so only just into the new term, but I am aware of 4 students who will carry epipens and need some reassurance. Thank you.

trixymalixy Wed 22-Jul-15 09:52:08

Elephant, that is what our consultant and allergy nurse said as well. If in doubt use the epipen.

Banana, both the school and the after school care have epipens, piriton, inhalers and printed asthma and allergy plans. All the staff have been epipen trained by the allergy nurse too and they are refreshing their training on one of the inset days before school starts again.

itshotinperth Tue 28-Jul-15 06:24:35

Just another perspective - we lived in the US for 3 yrs - been back in Oz for 18 months - and were advised that if child has ingested a known allergen with previous history of anaphylaxis then don't bother with antihistamines etc - just give the epipen. Better to give when known to have ingested the allergen - for us peanuts - than wait and see.

Link to story re child in US who died after ingesting peanut - parents gave benadryl even though she had anaphylaxis to peanuts before - she had delayed reaction and by time they gave her epipens it was too late - they didn't work. This advice stemmed from that incident.

Having said that, I also should have used one when my son's tongue was swelling after ingesting something - not sure what it was as we don't have peanuts - he didn't tell me, just took antihistamine and was ok - but I made it clear that he needs to tell me if his tongue is swelling (he also has angioedema and swells randomly to many ingested food stuffs)

babybarrister Wed 29-Jul-15 14:38:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gleegeek Thu 30-Jul-15 10:21:13

Thank you for your post. I had a very similar experience a few weeks ago after being stung by a wasp.I carry epipens for wasp allergy and various foods but have never had to use it. After the sting I tried to stay calm, althoigh my heart was pounding, sat quietly and took piriton and my inhaler although felt no breathlessness. I felt so sleepy and drippy and nauseous but as I wasn't swelling or wheezy thought I was OK. I took piriton every few hours and drifted in and out of sleep I ended up spending the whole week in bed feeling horrendous. In hindsight I should have used my epipens but didn't realise the signs dh and I were looking for don't always occur... have booked with allergy consultant to discuss it all.
Thank you for flagging this up - glad I'm not the only one! X

megletthesecond Sun 03-Jan-16 21:50:45

Bumping because a similar question appeared in child health.

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