MIAMI — Going back to school is also an important time to remember that children with allergies and asthma face challenges in the classroom.
The challenges can range from discomfort that makes it hard to concentrate on schoolwork, to symptoms that reduce a child’s ability to participate in recess or physical education class, to life-threatening reactions from food allergies or insect stings that account for more than 14 million missed school days, millions of dollars in medical bills and even lost workdays for parents.
The most common allergies at school that may cause an allergic reaction or asthmatic reaction include: foods, dust, pollen and molds, exercise, insect stings, and animal dander from class pets or pet hair on a student’s clothing. Foods that account for 90 percent of food allergies in children include: milk, eggs, peanuts, fish or shellfish, wheat, soy and tree nuts.
If your child requires an epinephrine auto-injector or inhaler, make sure to complete and sign school health forms and include emergency contact information plus permission to carry and self-administer asthma or anaphylaxis medication. Make sure auto-injectable epinephrine is with your child, and that teachers and the school nurse know how to use it properly.
Have your food-sensitive child bring a bagged lunch to school each day and never share food. Inform their teachers and school nurses of their condition. If possible, provide a picture of your child, with a list of their medications, allergies and conditions.
Before school starts, tour the school to identify potential allergy/ asthma triggers. Encourage your child to take his or her medications as prescribed.
Remind your child about his/her allergy and asthma triggers. Encourage children to ask teachers for help when symptoms appear.
If your child is allergic to certain foods, ask school cafeteria staff and teachers to avoid giving these foods to your child. Supply the school with your child’s “safe food” substitutes.
Inform physical education teachers and coaches about asthma and warning signs of an exacerbation. If your child has exercise-induced asthma, inform them of this fact and provide a short-acting bronchodilator inhaler to be used as directed by your child’s physician.
It is important to have good communication with school personnel about your child and to take them to see an allergist/ immunologist for an evaluation before the school year begins.
Keep your child “SAFE” by using this mnemonic: Seek support from school personnel; Allergen identification and avoidance; Follow up with specialty care provided by your allergist; Epinephrine for emergencies should be with your child at all times.
For more information visit florida-allergy.com or call 1-877-4-ALLERGY.