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Severe Allergies Bring Back-to-School Dangers

Here are tips on helping children stay safe

SATURDAY, Aug. 20, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- As kids head back to school, experts are urging that parents of children with allergies inform teachers and other school staff about anaphylaxis -- a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction triggered by allergens.

"All school staff must be made aware of the potentially severe nature of anaphylactic reaction. Parents need to work together with teachers, coaches and school nurses to avoid triggers and act quickly if a reaction occurs," Dr. S. Allan Bock, chairman of the anaphylaxis committee at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), said in a prepared statement.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include nausea and vomiting, severe headache, hives, sneezing and coughing, itching all over the body, swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, and anxiety. The most dangerous symptoms -- trouble breathing, a drop in blood pressure, and shock -- can all be fatal.

Experts at the AAAAI and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) outline steps parents with allergic children can take before the start of the school year:

  • Work with an allergist/immunologist to identify your child's allergy triggers and make sure he or she understands these triggers. Consider a medical bracelet or necklace that identifies your child's specific allergies.
  • Check out your child's school or child-care facility and ask about policies regarding foods and other potential triggers that might be present in the classroom.
  • Provide school staff with information and resources about your child's allergy. Have your allergist/immunologist provide written instructions on how to recognize a reaction early and how to administer medications. Inform the staff to call 911 immediately if your child has a reaction.
  • Children with a history of anaphylaxis should carry epinephrine with them at all times.

More information

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has more about anaphylaxis.

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, August 2005
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