Going back to school is a fun and exciting time for children and parents. However, it is also an important time to remember that children with allergies and asthma face challenges in the classroom. These 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. It is reported that more than 9 million children under the age of 18 suffer from allergies and asthma. This can account for more than 14 million missed school days, millions of dollars in medical bills and even lost workdays for parents. Therefore, it is important for children and their families to prepare for that back-to-school season by learning about ways to prevent allergies and asthma from interfering with school.
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% 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.
Dr. Dana Wallace, of FCAAC, urges you to: 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 one of Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care’s 18 centers to set up your treatment plan to breathe easier. For more information, please visit www.florida-allergy.com or call 1-877-4-ALLERGY.
About Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care
Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care has been in business for more than 38 years and has board certified physicians with extensive experience in treating both adults and children. FCAAC has 18 centers throughout South Florida, serving communities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Centers specialize in the testing and treatment of adults and children who suffer from allergies, asthma and other disorders of the immune system. Among the most common allergies treated are allergic skin diseases, food, drug and pet allergies. Florida Center For Allergy & Asthma Care Research conducts clinical trials on new medications. The goal of the FCAAC team is to provide professional and quality care resulting in total patient satisfaction.