It’s that time again — ensure that your child has a safe, healthy, and successful school year. If your child has a food allergy, asthma and/or nasal allergies, here are some important things to add to your summer to-do list:
For children with food allergies, summer is a great time to visit your allergist to confirm your child’s risk for anaphylaxis. Depending on the specific food allergy, some children may outgrow it over time. Through testing, foods may be safely added back into the child’s diet.
Check the expiration on your injectable epinephrine (Epi Pen, Auvi-Q, generic options) and refill prescriptions if necessary. Please be aware that there are several different auto-injectors on the market. They all deliver the same life-saving medication – epinephrine, however, there are differences in how they operate. It is essential that the patient, family members, and caregivers are trained and comfortable using the product of choice. Also check with your school nurse to make sure they are trained on your child’s auto-injector.
Make sure your Food Allergy/Anaphylaxis Action Plan is in place and all the necessary school forms are signed by the physician. Individual schools and school systems often require different forms, so call or check the school website. Due to high volume of school form requests this time of the year, please submit your requests along with a school form request to your AA&A office and allow up to a week for completion. If your child has not been seen by their AA&A provider in the past year, you will need to schedule a visit. Proper management of allergic and asthmatic conditions includes a yearly assessment of symptom control and exposure risk, an allergen profile update, and possible adjustment to medications as children grow.
Consider meeting with the school nurse and teacher(s) to make sure they are aware of the food allergy and are clear on the procedure in the event of an accidental exposure. Determine where your child’s epinephrine will be kept if he or she cannot carry their own. It is also a good idea to speak with coaches, bus drivers, and cafeteria staff. It is important to communicate when in doubt – always administer epi. Administering epinephrine will not cause any serious symptoms – however delaying use can have fatal consequences.
When your children are young, make other classroom parents aware of the allergy. You may want to suggest food allergy friendly snacks or provide safe alternatives for class parties. Inquire about the rules on food in the classroom and procedures for protecting food allergic children on field trips, including who will have your child’s emergency medications during these trips.
If your child has asthma – be certain of their symptom triggers and have your Asthma Care Plan in place. Make sure their asthma symptoms are well controlled and that they are taking appropriate maintenance medications daily. When you visit your allergist, they will administer a breathing test to determine if your child needs an adjustment to their prescriptions.
Evaluate your child’s individual school for possible asthma triggers such as chalk, dry erase boards, fragrances, and allergic triggers for children with allergic asthma. Work with your allergist and school to provide a safe environment for your child.
School forms will also be required to authorize your child to carry their asthma medications, so please submit your form request needs to your AA&A office as early as possible.
For children with nasal allergies, determine if your child’s allergy symptoms were well controlled over the previous year. If they were not, your AA&A provider will discuss options for updating the treatment plan. Whether through medications or allergen immunotherapy, controlling symptoms will ensure your child learns, and performs, at their highest level.
Be aware of ‘hidden’ allergy triggers at school such as mold exposure from bathrooms and leaky pipes, especially if some buildings have been closed-up for a while. Pet dander can be transported to the school on the clothing of classmates and teachers triggering a reaction in your child.
If your college-bound child is on allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots or drops), contact your AA&A office for guidance on continuing the therapy while away at school.
By working together with your allergists, and preparing in advance, you can ensure your child will have a safe, healthy, and successful school year!