The end of summer doesn't have to be the beginning of a stuffy school year for children with allergies. You can help control your kid's symptoms in the classroom -- and you should.
In a national survey of more than 1,000 families, parents of children with nasal allergies were twice as likely to say their kids' daily activities were hurt by their health. Ease your child's symptoms and you may boost her academic and social life as well.
To do this, you’ll need some help. These six tips are a good place to start.
1. Meet With School Staff
2. Create an 'Allergy Card'
Make a reference card about your child's triggers and reactions. Give it to the school nurse and anyone else who may need it. Be sure to include:
- Your child's typical allergy symptoms and what triggers them
- The names and doses of medications he takes
- Any allergies he has to medication
- Your work, home, and mobile telephone numbers
- A backup emergency-contact person
Pediatrician contact information, insurance information, and a preferred hospital/ER name
Update the card every year or when medications or symptoms change.
3. Set Up 'Symptom Alerts'
4. Get Your Child Involved
You may not know all the allergens at school that start your child's symptoms or make them worse. Ask your kid to tell you if something seems to give her a runny nose, itchy eyes, or other symptoms. This may include:
Dust mites. These are common, but less so if a classroom is air-conditioned.
Animal allergens. These may be a problem in classrooms that have pets like hamsters or rabbits.
Mold. Damp restrooms and leaking pipes can make this an issue.
Chalk dust and strong odors. These can act as irritants, worsening allergy symptoms.
Encourage your child to tell her teacher if she thinks something is making her sneeze and sniffle. Follow up the next time you speak to the teacher.
5. Learn About the School's Policy on Medications
Find out its stance on having medications at school. Teach your child what to do when he needs to use meds during the day. Be sure the school nurse and teachers know what needs to be done, especially if your child is prescribed an epinephrine auto-injection pen (generic or Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q, EpiPen, Symjepi).
6. Prepare for Potential Flares
Consider which situations may make your child's allergies worse, and plan ahead.
For example, if outdoor activities like recess and sports are be a problem, especially on high-pollen days, taking allergy medications before school may be the solution.
Have your child wear a baseball cap in pollen season and encourage him to wash his face (including nostrils and eyebrows) and hands everytime he comes inside. Changing shirts once inside is also a good way to minimize pollen exposure.
On days when pollen counts are high, even being in the classroom may aggravate your child's allergies. Ask her teachers if it's possible to close the windows on those days.