Allergic Reaction and No Epi Pen!

I received another email from a person asking: “What are basic first aid measures for a serious allergic reaction if there is no epi pen available? I watched your training video in your library at but I can’t seem to find an answer.”

Thanks for your answer,

Thanks for the question C. I thought this was a good question and a situation which no one wants to find themselves. So I decided to reply back and include it into the blog response. I hope it helps.

Here’s my reply:

Dear C,

Other than immediately calling EMS/911, if at all possible, let the person rest in position of comfort.
Some of the things that are indicated for first aid providers are:

1. Watch for signs and symptoms of severe allergic reactions like difficulty breathing, itching, hives, swelling, sore throat, anxiety.

2. Remove victim from anything that would aggravate or worsen the symptoms.

3. Give supportive care like rescue breathing, CPR, shock treatment etc when indicated.

4. If at all possible, identify what it is that gave the person their serious allergic reaction and avoid any further exposure to it.

This is not a prescription but simply something that I would do. I always like to have liquid diphenhydramine(Benadryl like antihistimine) on hand that can be taken as prescribed on the container or per doctors order. If I did not have a prescription for a “rescue inhaler” like albuterol or didn’t have an allergy response kit prescribed and filled from my doctor I would really emphasize doing so, and then keeping it up to date as the epi pen and other medications could expire and be useless.

Remember, recognizing the early signs of an allergic reaction and activating EMS/911 as soon as possible is critical. Time is of the essence. Oh! And if you think you may have an allergy, or have ever had a severe allergic reaction, you should be sure to contact your medical professional and get a filled prescription for an emergency allergic reaction kit, AKA: bee sting kit.

I hope this helps, and best wishes.


Liquid Antihistimine Benadryl

Roy Shaw

Roy is the lead trainer and co-founder of ProTrainings. He is also an EMT paramedic whose opinions about rescue come from many years of experience on the ambulance.

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7 comments on “Allergic Reaction and No Epi Pen!

  1. Thank you for the information Roy. I was at school earlier and almost got stung by a bee. I have had a reaction to a bee sting before and have to carry an epi pen. Due to Michigan’s weather I am surprised at the fact that it is March but very hot outside. So unaware of this weather compared to previous years I did not have my epi pen. So thank you for the information, and if there is any more please reply back.

    Sincerely, J

  2. Thanks for this, Roy. I just had a serious scare and this was the only page I found that had an alternative to the Epi Pen (I never knew I needed one until now, so I didn’t have one)

    The benadryl isn’t exactly magical but it, or rather, YOU, may have saved my life, or at the least a trip to the emergency room.

  3. To all,

    I had the unfortunate opportunity to go through anaphylaxis shock without no epi-pen, no albuterol, or benadryl. I have to take allergy shots once a week and also have the epi-pen always near by. Remember that some or all epi-pens come with a “trainer” epi in it. Once I gave myself self the allergy shot, I knew within 20 seconds I was in trouble. I broke out in hives and starting itching ferociously. When I retrieved the epi, I immediately noticed it was a trainer epi. This was 2 minutes going by. I immediately called 911 my wife went to get her shoes, I attempted to tell 911 my location but by the time I thought I told 911 my address my wife found me unconscious and lifeless. She noticed me trying to breathe but I was not breathing for approximately 2 minutes! Since she is a nurse thank God, her nursing instincts took over. Since she found me sitting lifeless in a chair. She said she sat me up tilted my head back and administered breaths. Note: she is doing this at the same time she is talking to 911. At this time my eyes are in the back of my head, I’m sweating perfusiously. All this happens in 2 minutes of no breathing. The breaths she gave me were enough for my body to gather enough adrenaline to push me through my blackout. When I started to regain consciousness I could hear her yelling”babe, babe,” and I came to. It took 911 between 10-15 minutes to get to me. This was the closest to death I have ever experienced and closest to feeling like holding my breath under water and being able to het any air.

    After I woke up I wanted to get up because I immediately felt a charlie horse in my abdomen. The only thing that I could think of for this reason was that I was trying to get air in so badly that my abs tensed so badly to the point getting a charlie horse. It was good because it told me I was regaining consciousness. So, now that I was up 911 told my wife to move to the bedroom and to lay me down on my side and monitor me and to keep me awake till the paranedics came. Normal oxygen intake is supposed to between 95-99%. When the EMS arrived I was at 75%, I’m sure my oxygen when I was blacked out was way below the 75% mark otherwise I wouldn’t have blacked out. The EMS asked questions and immediately gave me a lower form or lower dose of epinephrine and gave me oxygen, within 5 minutes I already felt normal again.

    I hope this helps, if this happens to anyone and their alone I don’t know and can only assume the worse. I learned a valuable lesson the hard way. ALWAYS have an epi-pin close by. Had I had mine I probably wouldn’t have blacked out and could have saved a lot of money not riding in the ambulance. Also, if you manage to go through a black out and are near the phone just dialing 911 can trigger them to send someone to see if you are OK they have GPS capabilties. In my case the fire department got to me first.

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