The allergist can help you more than you think: six ways to team up.
Facing a new school year with a child suffering from allergies or asthma is no walk in the park. It entails a great deal of knowledge and information to face the obstacles, adapt to new restrictions, and make the environment as inclusive as possible.
Whether it’s a known condition or a newly diagnosed one, a new establishment or the same school, parents have the immense task of meeting and educating new teachers, school staff and care takers to ensure safety and a comprehensive environment.
There are many online sources available to a parent, although the simple task of selecting the reputable ones can be time-consuming and overwhelming. The most reliable source of support is the allergist. The specialized physician who can help parents learn to manage their child’s daily care to safeguard their home and school from triggers as well as to inform care-givers about their child’s condition.
What to do as a parent
Instead of doubting that a child may suffer from allergies or asthma, book an appointment and get them tested before school starts;
Educate your child on understanding his/her condition, identifying triggers, using the right medication, and most importantly what to do in case of exposure.
Communicate with the school; meet with teachers, nurse and cafeteria staff, to go over protocols and what to do in case of anaphylaxis. Providing a list of warning signs, exposing hidden triggers and cross contamination, help prevent occurrence of unexpected reactions.
Speak with physical education teachers regarding supervision for children with exercised-induced asthma.
Provide the school with prescriptions and any medication your child may need, including two doses of epinephrine. Staff should know where to find medications at all times and how to administer the injection in the event of an emergency. Ideally all staff handling the medications should be trained to administer and to recognize first symptoms of an allergic reaction.
How can the allergist be of support
Schedule an appointment before school starts to discuss appropriate strategies.
Provide updated prescriptions for medications.
Collaborate with coach and physical education teacher for patients suffering from exercise induced asthma.
Create a Food Allergy Action Plan (now called Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan to outline the protocol in case of an allergic reaction; lists emergency contact names and phone numbers. It must be signed by the allergist and provided to school personnel and care-takers.
Anaphylaxis Action Plan helps optimized your child’s life-threatening allergies and emergency protocol in case of a reaction.
Asthma Action Plan is a written plan developed and signed by the asthma specialist. It helps patients, families and teachers with the management of asthma by showing daily treatment and prescribed medications. This plan must be provided to school personnel and all care-takers.
Dr. Adriana Bonansea-Frances says: “If your child was diagnosed with asthma, allergic rhinitis or food allergy, this is the right time to talk to your doctor or your allergist to work as a team and develop an action plan in preparation for the new school year.”