Discharge Instructions: Using an EpiPen Auto-Injector

Your healthcare provider has prescribed the EpiPen Auto-Injector for you. The EpiPen is used to give yourself a shot during an emergency allergic reaction. The pen is disposable and has a hidden needle. The needle is activated by a spring inside the pen. EpiPen makes giving yourself a shot easy. It also makes it easy for someone else to give you a shot if you are unable to do it for yourself.

Be prepared

Be prepared to use your EpiPen before you have an allergic reaction:

  • Keep more than one EpiPen. Carry one kit with you and keep others in easy-to-find places, at home and at work.

  • Make sure you check the expiration dates of your EpiPens.

  • Dispose of the EpiPen properly after each use. The instructions that come with the EpiPen tell you how to do so.

Prepare your family and friends

Wear a medical ID bracelet. It should let others know about your allergy and what to do in an emergency. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers what they should do if you have a severe allergic reaction:

  • Tell them to call 911 if it seems you are having a reaction.

  • Tell them to start CPR if you stop breathing.

  • Ask them to make sure you are lying down with your legs raised during the reaction.

  • Show them how to use the EpiPen.

  • If they need to give you a shot, tell them to always use the side of your thigh.

What to do if you have an allergic reaction

Removing the cap on an EpiPen

Injecting the EpiPen against the outside of your thigh


If you have an allergic reaction, give yourself a shot using the EpiPen. This will counteract the reaction until medical help arrives.

  • Use any site on the side of your thigh. There is no need to look for the best injection site or to give the shot in the buttocks or arm.

  • With the tip of the EpiPen pointed toward the side of your thigh, jab the pen against your thigh for 10 seconds. This releases a spring-activated plunger, which pushes the hidden needle into the thigh muscle and gives a dose of adrenaline (epinephrine).

  • Call 911 right after giving the injection.

  • Lie down and elevate your legs while you wait for help to arrive.

Preventing allergic reactions

  • Be careful. Try to avoid the items that cause your allergic reaction.

  • Tell all your healthcare providers, including your pharmacist, about any allergies you have to medications. Keep a list of alternative medicines handy.

  • Ask your healthcare provider if allergy shots (immunotherapy) will help you.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical care 

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following signs of severe allergic reaction:

  • Racing pulse

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing

  • Swollen lips, tongue, or throat

  • Drowsiness, fainting, or loss of consciousness

  • Upset stomach (nausea) and vomiting

  • Itchy, blotchy skin, rash, or hives

  • Pale, cool, damp skin

  • Confusion