How to avoid an allergic reaction when heading back to school

Posted: 8/13/2012

From Detroit Free Press:

Allergy triggers in classrooms and on playgrounds are responsible for more than 14 million missed school days each year in the United States, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Before they head back to school, children should be taught how to stay healthy and should consider these tips from the ACAAI:

Avoid chalk dust. Children should wash their hands after handling chalk and not sit too close to the chalkboard.

Steer clear of bees and wasps. Do not disturb bees or other insects and avoid wearing brightly colored clothing, which can attract insects. Children with an insect venom allergy should talk to an allergist about venom immunotherapy, which can be 97% effective in preventing future reactions to insect bites.

Pack lunch. Children with food allergies should bring their lunch to school and avoid sharing food, napkins or utensils with their friends. Teachers, coaches and the school nurse should also be informed about food allergies.

Be aware of breathing troubles after physical activity. Children who experience trouble breathing during or after gym class, recess or other physical activities at school could have exercise-induced asthma. These children should visit an allergist who can diagnose and treat their condition.

Don't cuddle classroom pets. Avoid pets with fur and ask not be seated next to children who have furry pets at home. Parents can also request that teachers choose a hairless classroom pet, such as a fish or a frog.

In severe cases, anaphylaxis - a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction - can occur. A person who is experiencing anaphylaxis needs to receive an epinephrine injection immediately because rapid decline and death can occur within 15 to 60 minutes, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The Michigan Osteopathic Association offers these of tips to help children avoid serious food allergies when they return to school:

• Know the causes. Common anaphylaxis triggers include foods, such as peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans), fish, shellfish, milk, wheat, soy and eggs; certain medications, especially penicillin; insect stings from bees, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and fire ants.

• Know the signs and symptoms. Skin reactions include hives, itching, swelling and flushed or pale skin. In the mouth, reactions include swelling of lips or tongue and itching. In the lungs, there can be shortness of breath, a cough or wheezing. In the throat, there can be itching, tightness, hoarseness and the sensation of a lump in your throat. The heart can have a weak and rapid pulse; you can be dizzy, pass out or faint. There also can be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

• Know how to treat anaphylaxis. People with severe allergies should have two epinephrine injectors with them at all times. Make sure that your child, his or her friends and school officials have been trained how to use it.

Original here.