Food Allergies in Children: Back to School
Summertime is finally over, which means it’s back-to-school season again. This time is often stressful for both children and their parents. The stress levels may be even higher in families with food allergic children.
If your child has a food allergy or multiple food allergies and especially if there is a history of severe allergic reactions, you may feel anxious about sending your kid to school.
If your allergic child goes to school for the first time, you will need to take certain measures to ensure their safety. Since you will no longer be able to always bear nearby and prepare all of their food, experts recommend making some adjustments concerning your child’s allergy control. To start with, you can take some tips from blogs or books written by allergy parents.
How to Ensure Your Child’s Safety at School?
The risk of exposure to allergenic substances, especially food allergens, at school is quite high. To make sure your child is safe during the school time, there are certain strategies you may want to follow.
Thus, it is a good idea to make a T-shirt listing all the allergies that affect your child, so that they can wear the T-shirt on the first day of school. When you prepare a lunch box or other food containers for your kid, label the food with an “Allergy Alert” sticker. Getting your child an allergy indicator bracelet can also be helpful.
These measures can help to keep allergies under control, but they are definitely not enough.
It is very important that you go to the school in person and speak to the people responsible for the children’s safety. Make sure to go the Meet the Teacher night and talk to the teacher personally. Inform them about your child’s allergy, the symptoms of a reaction, and the required treatment.
Allergists and immunologists recommend talking to everyone who comes in contact with the child at school, including teachers, coaches, nurses, and principals. Fill out all the required forms and ensure the availability of the emergency medications, including epinephrine, auto-injectors, and asthma inhalers.
Some parents may be hesitant about these precautions, especially when other people tend to judge. However, it’s never too much, when it comes to your child’s safety. Making sure your little one is safe at school at least gives you the piece of mind.
How to Teach Your Child to Avoid Allergens?
Allergists agree that it’s important to teach children with allergies to take care of themselves.
According to experts, parents should understand that removing all allergens at home does not provide real-world security to their children. It is impossible to protect your children from all potential allergens in the world. To make sure your child is safe during the day, you should teach them to avoid allergy triggers, as well as use allergy treatment, when needed. It is important to increase their education around allergy control.
First, knowing what to do in case of an emergency helps your child reduce their anxiety. You may want to consult with your allergist about exposure challenges that are also meant to reduce anxiety. Working with a specialist helps to make sure the effectiveness of allergy education.
It is important that your child understands that they should always eat their own food at school and never share food with anyone. They should also learn the symptoms of potential allergic reactions, as well as what to do in case of exposure. If your child can recognize their allergy symptoms and knows when to ask for help, their stress is significantly reduced.
Experts recommend teaching children when to use antihistamines (e.g. Benadryl), when to use an inhaler, and when to use an auto-injector.
Second, you should always prepare a lunch for your child at home. Make sure your kid doesn’t share food at school and never eats anything he’s never eaten before. You should also ensure that all the emergency medications are with them and that your child’s caretakers are aware of their allergy.
Remember that your child needs to be involved in their allergy management. Talk to them about their allergies, so that they realize how serious this all is. This will not only help your child, but also give you the peace of mind.
What Is the Common Mistake?
There is one common mistake many parents of allergic children do, when having a hard time adjusting to school season. They go to homeschool because of their child’s allergies. However, in many cases, this is rather unwillingness of the parents to do the job.
Allergist specialists do not support this approach to allergy management.
Sometimes, homeschooling may be the right thing for other reasons, but it is also important for a child to be a part of the community and participate in social interactions.
Experts believe that the best way to ensure your child’s safety is to teach them to act appropriately, when it’s needed. Make sure to teach your child these four rules:
- Never eat if you don’t know what it is.
- Never eat if you don’t have allergy meds at hand.
- Learn to recognize the symptoms of a reaction.
- Learn to treat a reaction, in case of an emergency.