Many children have allergies. Most never have a dangerous allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Still, it's best to be prepared, including when your child is at school.
Your child's allergist can help. They can use blood and skin tests to identify your child's allergy triggers, review your child's allergy treatments, and see if your child should carry an epinephrine auto-injector, such as Auvi-Q or EpiPen, and show you how to use it. Make sure your child and his teacher also know how to use it.
Make a Plan
Make sure everyone at school who's around your child -- teachers, aides, administrators -- is trained to recognize an anaphylactic reaction and know what to do.
Tell teachers, nurses, and other school staff about your child’s allergies. Work with the school and your allergist to create a detailed allergy plan. Many schools already have the outline in place. You just need to fill out the forms and have your doctor sign them.
A typical allergy plan includes:
- A description of your child's allergy, such as peanuts or insect stings
- Your child's symptoms
- The name of the medication to give for each symptom, and the correct dosage
- Who to call in case of an emergency
The plan should cover after-school activities, field trips, and the school bus as well as the classroom.
- If your child has a food allergy, pack her food and tell her not to eat anything she didn't bring to school.
- If your child is allergic to bee stings, you may want to avoid dressing her in bright clothing, which can attract bees. You may also want your child to use a bug spray.
- If your child is allergic to nuts, ask the school to make the lunchroom or your child's classroom a nut-free zone.
Have your child wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. If you and your doctor think your child is ready to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (such as Auvi-Q or EpiPen), make sure he and school staff know how to use it. Your doctor should show you how and also tell you whether more than one shot may be needed. Your child should carry two shots in case they need more than one.
If your child has anaphylaxis and gets a shot of epinephrine, she will still need to get immediate medical care. The shot won't stop an anaphylactic reaction. It will only control the symptoms for a few minutes. That may give you extra time, but you (or the school) should still call 911 right away and get your child to an emergency room, even if she seems OK after the shot.
As with any drug, epinephrine does expire. Look on the barrel of the auto-injector for the expiration date.