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Epinephrine is the drug of choice for the emergency treatment of severe allergic reactions (Type I) to insect stings or bites, foods, drugs, and other allergens. It can also be used in the treatment of anaphylaxis of unknown cause (idiopathic anaphylaxis) or exercise-induced anaphylaxis. When given intramuscularly or subcutaneously it has a rapid onset and short duration of action. Epinephrine acts on both alpha and beta adrenergic receptors. Through its action on alpha adrenergic receptors, epinephrine lessens the vasodilation and increased vascular permeability that occurs during anaphylaxis, which can lead to loss of intravascular fluid volume and hypotension. Through its action on beta-adrenergic receptors, epinephrine causes bronchial smooth muscle relaxation that helps alleviate bronchospasm, wheezing and dyspnea that may occur during anaphylaxis. Epinephrine also alleviates pruritus, urticaria, and angioedema and may be effective in relieving gastrointestinal and genitourinary symptoms associated with anaphylaxis because of its relaxer effects on the smooth muscle of the stomach, intestine, uterus, and urinary bladder.
Last reviewed on RxList: 9/27/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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