Monday, August 07, 2017

Allergy-proofing school life

At home, parents can make sure allergic kids have inhalers close at hand and that dust and mite poo are vacuumed regularly...but what about when kids get out in the world, namely to school?

Keeping allergies and asthma under control at school is a challenge, says Stephen Tilles, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI.org).

Parents need to work with both the child and the school.

Some tips:

Ask questions--now--at school. How does the school nurse handle allergy emergencies? Is there a school nurse, for that matter? Who calls 911? What if the child can't remember how to operate the epinephrine injector or can't find it? Are teachers trained in allergic reactions? Make a list of questions--meet with the nurse.

Make sure your child really has a food allergy. About 5-8% of kids have true allergies--many are misdiagnosed. You need to work with an allergist. Skin pricks are not effective unless the child has had allergy symptoms. Keep the school fully informed on a diagnosed allergy.

What about allergens hiding at school? For instance, what about the classroom pet? Or pet dander on the clothes or backpack of another child? Pollen and dust settle if classrooms are not cleaned well. Does the teacher keep windows open?

Talk to your expert. Meet with the allergist before school starts. For instance, kids with asthma under the care of an allergist miss 77% fewer days of school.

Think ahead. Be proactive.

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