Teacher and Parent Discussing Childs Allergies
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Set Up a Meeting at the School

When your child has serious allergies, work with her school. Meet with the principal, her teachers, and the clinic staff.  Find out if the school already has a policy to deal with food or other allergies. Then, make a plan to help her avoid triggers while still being able to fully take part. Don’t forget after-school programs and the school bus.

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Anaphylaxis Action Plan in School
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Develop an Anaphylaxis Action Plan

In an allergy emergency, seconds count. Every child with prescribed epinephrine should have an emergency plan. Make one with your child’s doctor and the school nurse. It should have your child’s photo, specific allergy warning signs and symptoms, and treatment instructions. Put copies in your child’s classroom, the office, and the cafeteria.

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Teacher Securing Students Epinephrine
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Supply the School With Medication

Epinephrine should be with your child at school -- not locked up or refrigerated. It should be passed between staff wherever she goes unless she’s old enough to carry it. Explain doctor instructions, which may include injecting at the first signs of anaphylaxis. Caution that they should not wait, even if it is unclear that the symptoms are allergy related. Your doctor may suggest that your child carry two doses. Check expiration dates often. 

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Children With Food Allergies
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Talk to Your Child About Allergies

Go over your child’s triggers with her. For food allergies, tell her not to share food, utensils, or containers, and to wash her hands before and after eating. For insect sting allergies, teach her to wear long sleeves, pants, and shoes outside and eat inside when she can. If outside, use a straw. Then she can’t swallow a bee if it is in her drink.  

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boys eating in a cafeteria
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Teach Warning Signs

Children and school staff (even substitute teachers and lunch monitors) should know to watch for these warning signs:

  • Hives and itching, pale or flushed skin
  • Swollen throat or tongue
  • Wheezing, trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Dizziness or fainting, or rapid or weak pulse
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps
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mother and daughter with doctor
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Make a Response Plan

School staff should not expect your child to give herself an epinephrine shot during a reaction, even if she knows how. Your doctor will make an emergency response plan for staff to follow. It will tell them how and when to give epinephrine, call 911, and start emergency first aid.

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Painting With Allergy Safe Paint
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Expose Hidden Severe Allergy Dangers

Ask your child's teacher to avoid using triggers in lesson plans, crafts projects, and cooking classes. Some iffy items include:

  • Tempera paints that have eggs
  • Clay or dough made with peanut butter
  • Icing made from egg whites

Also establish clear communication regarding class parties and events in which food items are brought in.  Request a list of ingredients prior to these events.  Then decide with your child if it's safer to pack her a treat from home.

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bee on flower
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Work for Sting Prevention

Preventing insect stings can be hard. But your child's school can take these helpful steps:

  • Remove insect nests on or near school grounds
  • Store garbage in covered containers away from where students play or line up for school
  • Have at-risk students eat inside, at least during sting season
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Allergy Medical Alert Bracelet
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Give Your Child a Medical ID Bracelet

A medical alert bracelet reminds school staff during an emergency that your child needs epinephrine. It also gives paramedics a special number to get important information quickly. Bracelets designed for kids can feature beads or cartoon characters.

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Children in School Lunch Line
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Should You Bag Cafeteria Lunches?

If you’re sure your child won’t swap food, packing a lunch is OK. But schools must make meals for kids with special diet needs at no extra cost. Food staff should know your child’s food triggers and the technical and scientific names for those foods to help them when reading packages. Surfaces and utensils should be washed to avoid cross contact.

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School Girls Eating in an Allergen Free Zone
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No-Allergen Zones

Limiting contact with triggers can be done in a way that doesn't make kids with food allergies feel alone. If your child is allergic to nuts, for example, work with school staff to:

  • Have a special lunch table where anyone can sit whose lunch is nut-free
  • Make school-wide rules not to trade food or share utensils or straws
  • Create a nut-free snack policy in the classroom
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Parent Helping Child at School
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Help the School Help Your Child

By volunteering at school, you can help teachers watch what's going on. Be involved in planning and going on field trips and class parties. Write a letter that the teacher can send to other class parents to let them know about your child’s allergy. Offer to provide kid-friendly allergy info for classmates.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/16/2017 Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on October 16, 2017

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

1)    SW Productions/Photodisc
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4)    Mary Kate Denny/Stone
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7)    Image Source
8)    iStock / Thinkstock
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SOURCES

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI): "Preparing for School with Allergies and Asthma," "Position Statement: Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Child-care Settings."
Kids With Food Allergies: “Take Steps to Ensure Your Child Has a Safe School Year."
Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN): “Food Allergy Action Plan."
Allergy Safe Communities: “School Anaphylaxis Plan."
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI): “Treatment of Anaphylaxis: Preparedness and Prevention."
CDC: "Reducing the Risk of Exposure to Food Allergens.”
Children’s Hospital Boston: “Bee Stings."
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI): “Anaphylaxis."
Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN): “How a Child Might Describe a Reaction."
Allergy/Asthma Information Association (AAIA): “Tips for a Safe Return to School."
Living Without: “Back to School: Tips for your Food-Allergic Child."

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on October 16, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.