Allergy in Kids: How Can You Control Allergies at School?
In the United States, up to 4 children out of 10 have seasonal allergies. Besides, estimated 6 percent of infants under the age of 3 are allergic to certain foods. Allergies can greatly affect your child’s well-being and productivity while in school, and he also may miss some important classes because of the symptoms. Therefore, it is important for schools, kindergartens and daycares to be able to address the problem of allergy relief.
In fact, it is possible to keep allergies under control, but it requires cooperative work of teachers, coaches, school nurses and your own family. If your kid has a moderate or severe allergy, minimizing his exposure to allergens may not be enough. Ask your doctor whether your child needs some allergy-relieving medication.
Inform Teachers About Your Child’s Allergy
Since the individual cases of allergies in kids may differ from each other, you should inform the teachers and other school workers about the specific allergies that your child has. It is a good idea to organize a so-called parent-teacher meeting before each new academic year. It doesn’t matter if your child goes to the same school – the teachers may change every year.
To start with, what you can do is to share some background resources related to allergy control. For example, the Asthma and Allergy Toolkit for School Nurses, or the school guidelines for food allergies from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. In addition, you can present the fact sheets on allergic disorders by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
It is important that you show a detailed list of the triggers you child is allergic to. You can find the full list of allergens on the official website of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, which can help you make sure you don’t forget anything.
Children often describe things differently from adults, which means they may not be able to describe their symptoms in a proper way. Thus, if you child says, “My tongue feels hairy” or “tastes funny” when his tongue is swelling, you should tell the teachers about that.
Find out whether the school does something to allergy-proof the building during allergy seasons. For instance, they can install high-efficiency air filters, keep windows closed on high-pollen days, remove carpets from classrooms if possible, immediately repair leaky pipes, and do the grounds maintenance before or after the classes or during the weekends. Allergy specialists also suggest that schools try to reduce the outdoor activities when the pollen counts are higher, and replace rugs for nap time with mats.
If your child has a pet dander allergy, you should ask the teachers to remove any pets from the classroom, if there are any, including hamsters and gerbils. According to experts, even if your child is allergic to a cat or a dog, he may easily cross-react to other animals like rodents.
In case of food allergies, your allergist can provide with a food allergy action plan” (available on the website of American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology), which you can then pass on to the teachers, school nurses and administrators.
If your child suffers from a life-threatening type of allergy, you must ensure that the school stuff is able to provide quick help in an emergency, and that there are multiple doses of epinephrine (or other medication you use) available on hand.
In most cases, life-threatening allergic reactions are related to food intolerance. If your child has food allergy, make sure to ask detailed information about the school’s food allergy policy, including the following aspects:
- Whether the major food allergens like peanuts are totally banned or there are just peanut-free plates.
- The way of handling celebrations like birthdays.
- Whether treats may be brought from outside.
- If they organize bake sales.
- If food sharing is prohibited among students.
Inform Your Own Child About His (or Her) Allergy
Allergy control at school is not only a responsibility of parents, teachers and coaches, but also of your child himself (herself).
Your child should be well educated about his condition and how to manage the symptoms they have. You have to make sure that your child is able to identify the allergy symptoms and report them to a teacher or school nurse. He or she should keep their hands away from their mouth and wash them regularly, especially before or after eating. Keeping the hands cleans helps to avoid transferring the allergens from the hands to the face, eyes or mouth and prevent an allergic reaction. You should explain your child why sharing food and water bottles or cups with other children is a bad idea. He or she should understand that this may lead to transferring food allergens. Besides, if your child shares clothes with his friend, he can be exposed to his pet’s dander. If he or she is allergic to dust, they should avoid the chalkboard and carpeted surfaces. Instead, they should sit at a desk or bring a personal mat.
By educating both your child and his teachers, you will help your little one to feel better and be more productive at school. Besides, protecting his environment from the allergens not only prevents unwanted allergic reactions, but also reduces the amount of needed allergy medications.
You will need to take certain measures in order to protect your child from allergies at school. Allergy control requires a great teamwork involving your family, school teachers, school nurses, as well as your child himself.