Before School Starts, Train all the Brains for Allergies and Asthma
You may have been thinking through your child’s back-to-school allergy plan since school let out in spring. But unless everyone your child deals with at school knows his symptoms and triggers, your plan won’t help keep allergies and asthma under control.
“More than 10 million kids under age 18 have asthma, and one in four suffer from respiratory allergies,” said allergist James Sublett, MD, FACAAI, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Many kids with asthma and food allergies don’t have a plan in place at their school. An allergy or asthma action plan doesn’t do any good if it’s not shared with the people who can act on it.”
Following is a list from ACAAI of people at your child’s school you should work with to keep allergies and asthma under control.
Teacher Teacher – While your child’s teacher is the first line of defense at school in helping reduce sniffing, wheezing and sneezing, the right systems must be established at home before they get on the bus. If your child takes an allergy or asthma medication, make sure they take them at home, and that good avoidance measures are set up to keep their triggers under control. If your child’s teacher knows your child’s triggers, she may be able to help them steer clear in the classroom as well.
Too cool for school? Nah. – Discuss how to handle emergencies with the school principal and school nurse. Since 2010, all 50 states have laws protecting students’ rights to carry and use asthma and anaphylaxis medications at school. Children who are at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from certain foods or insect stings should have epinephrine auto-injectors immediately available for treatment. Be sure your child and school staff know how to use emergency medications.
Put me in Coach! – Playground games, physical education class and after-school sports can trigger exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Children with asthma and allergies should be able to participate in any sport they choose, provided their allergist’s advice is followed. Asthma symptoms during exercise may indicate poorly-controlled asthma. Make sure your child’s coach or physical education teacher knows what to do in case of an asthma-related event.
ABC, easy as 1-2-3 – Kids with food allergies are often very good at identifying what they can and can’t eat, but it helps if other parents (such as the room parent) and your child’s friends know too. Your child’s school may have a policy about bringing in treats for special occasions. If they don’t, you’ll want to make other parents and kids aware of what’s off-limits.
Future’s so bright – Your child with allergies or asthma should be under the care of a board-certified allergist. An allergist can determine what is causing symptoms and show you how to avoid triggers. For children with particularly bothersome allergies, an allergist may prescribe immunotherapy (allergy shots) which can modify and prevent allergy development. Kids who have asthma who see an allergist have a 77 percent reduction in lost time from school.
For more information about allergies and asthma, and to locate an allergist in your area