Food allergies affect approximately 8% of children. The 4 major food allergies in children less than 18 years of age are peanut, milk, shellfish, and tree nuts. Most fatal food reactions occur with peanut and tree nuts. Severe food allergies are highest in the 14-17 year age group. Most food allergic reactions occur in the classroom, not the lunchroom!
Children with multiple food allergies have a three-fold increased risk of a severe reaction. Children with food allergies and asthma tend to have more severe reactions. Administration of an antihistamine (e.g. Benadryl), and delay of administration of epinephrine is the #1 error in treatment of severe food allergic reactions at school. In the event of a serious allergic reaction, follow three simple steps:
When in doubt, administer epinephrine! There is NO absolute contraindication for epinephrine when treating anaphylaxis. Administering epinephrine in time will save someone’s life.
Peanut-free schools are not the answer. Up to 85% of unintentional exposures to peanuts occur in schools that are “peanut-free”.
Claiming to be “peanut-free” causes a false sense of security, encourages food allergy related bullying and is unfair to those that are not allergic to peanuts.
Skin contact and inhalational exposure to peanuts are unlikely to cause systemic reactions or anaphylaxis.
No fatality has been reported without mucosal contact or ingestion.
Ingestion of baked goods or candy account for approximately 75% of reactions to peanuts and tree nuts.
Do you ever have trouble telling if a child or adolescent’s asthma is under control? Ask them to take the Asthma Control Test (ACT), which will help you assess their asthma symptoms. This is a validated check-off sheet for children (ages 4-12) and adolescents (ages 13-19). The student will answer a few simple questions about their asthma. It will take about 2 minutes to complete and score.
For school you would only use the top 4 questions for the child. If the score is less than 8 for the child (top 4 questions only) or 19 for the adolescent, then the asthma is not under good control and you should contact the parent.
DOWNLOAD & PRINT: Asthma Control Test (ADULT)* | Asthma Control Test (CHILD)*
*Copyright 2002, by QualityMetric Incorporated. Asthma Control Test is a trademark of QualityMetric Incorporated.
If a child or adolescent has never been diagnosed to have asthma, how would you know? The symptoms can be any combination of coughing, often worse or only present with exercise or laughter; shortness of breath; chest tightness or heaviness; wheezing (making a squeaky or whistling sound); or having trouble breathing or catching one’s breath. Many may have been told that they are having recurrent “bronchitis”, “chronic bronchitis,” or “reactive airway disease”, which usually means they have undiagnosed asthma.
Having frequent upper respiratory infections or colds that “settle in the chest” is often a sign of asthma. If any of these are present on a fairly consistent basis, the child or adolescent should be evaluated for asthma by a physician specialized in treating allergies and asthma – an Allergist.
Answer TRUE or FALSE for each of these questions:
1. Exercise asthma can begin within a few minutes of the start of exercise, or even a few minutes after the child stops exercising.
2. It is medically acceptable for the child to use the rescue inhaler (short-acting bronchodilator) up to 4 times a day as the only medication for asthma.
3. Patients with asthma should be excused from physical education to prevent asthma episodes.
4. Children may experience asthma symptoms caused by animal dander that other students bring into the classroom on their clothing.
5. Asthma can be triggered by house or school dust, perfumes, cold weather, upper respiratory infection, and tobacco smoke.
1. TRUE 2. FALSE 3. FALSE 4. TRUE 5. TRUE
To save a copy of all our 5 tips DOWNLOAD: FCAAC Back to School Allergy & Asthma Tips 2013
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Thank you for sharing this great resource. As a parent of a soon-to-be school-aged child, I’m becoming more aware of the importance of understanding the topic of allergies and allergens at school.
Thanks Andres, we are glad you found it useful. Allergies and asthma are becoming more common in the Western society (sadly) and awareness is what we cannot encourage enough. Knowledge takes you half way to an advantage point. Please keep reading our blog and don’t hesitate to ask us to write about a topic you may be interested to.