Two Sundays ago I had a severe allergic reaction to peanuts.
Within minutes of eating what I thought was a chocolate fudge brownie, my throat started closing and I could barely breathe.
I hesitated to give myself a shot of epinephrine because, for one, I had never self-administered a shot before, and two, I wasn’t 100% sure that I needed it. I once heard that if you take a shot of epinephrine and don’t need it, you’ll die (turns out that’s probably not true).
The symptoms became worse and my throat kept tightening, so I grabbed my Auvi-Q. The Auvi-Q contains the drug epinephrine, which can stop severe allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis.
When I opened the device, a calm voice talked me through how to use it, step by step. That proved to be incredibly helpful because it also told me when the injection was complete. The needle also automatically retracted. Per the Auvi-Q’s instructions, I called 911.
Upon arriving at the hospital, the doctor informed me that I might need to be intubated because my throat was so incredibly swollen. Thankfully, it didn’t have to come to that. The Auvi-Q sustained my life long enough for me to get to the emergency room, get seen, and get injected with a bunch of Benadryl to battle the inflammation.
The Auvi-Q is just one of the several devices used to treat anaphylaxis. The Epi-Pen is the most well-known of them all, but its clunky design makes it less than ideal to carry around.
In fact, up to two-thirds of patients with severe allergies don’t regularly carry their epinephrine injectors, according to a 2012 anaphylaxis survey. And a significant number of people say they lack the confidence in their ability to correctly use an auto-injector in an emergency.
That’s what makes the Auvi-Q so ideal. It’s smaller than a cell phone, and it tells you exactly what to do and and for how long in a soothing, Siri-like voice.
Auvi-Q was founded by twin brothers Eric and Evan Edwards, who grew up with serious food allergies. The Auvi-Q hit the market last January.