RISKS IN THE CLASSROOM: CHILDREN WITH ASTHMA AND ALLERGIES NEED
TO TAKE SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS AT SCHOOL
key to a healthy school year is communication," Zacharisen said.
"It is critical to a child's health and success at school that parents
explain their child's condition to teachers and school officials."
Students with asthma and allergies should have a School Management
Plan on file at school, Zacharisen said. This plan, developed with
the child's allergist/immunologist or pediatrician, should contain
detailed information about the child's condition, including triggers,
medications and what to do in an emergency.
allergies are a special concern for many parents. Up to two million
children in the United States have food allergies. The most common
symptom of an allergic reaction to food is hives. Food allergic
individuals can also experience asthma-like symptoms, eczema and
other gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal
cramping. The most severe reaction to food is anaphylaxis, a systemic
reaction that can sometimes be fatal.
of the most common foods that can trigger an allergic reaction are
milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts.
Strict avoidance of the foods to which a child is sensitive is the
only proven therapy for food allergy, but it is difficult to achieve
complete avoidance of all allergenic foods. Traces of problem foods
can be hidden or accidentally ingested, however, it is possible
to reduce student's exposure to allergenic foods within the school
members involved with the child's care should be instructed about
which foods the child needs to avoid, the potentially severe nature
of food allergy and proper treatment of allergic reactions," Zacharisen
said. "If prescribed, food allergic students should have an epinephrine
auto-injector device clearly labeled with the child's name and classroom
number. School personnel should also be instructed about the location
of the medication and how to administer it if an allergic reaction
Allergies and Asthma
best person to treat allergies and asthma is an allergist/immunologist.
Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine
physicians who have completed an additional two years of training
to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic
disease. Allergists/immunologists are the best qualified physicians
to recognize the sometimes subtle symptoms of allergies and asthma
and recommend appropriate treatment. To be referred to a local allergist/immunologist,
contact the AAAAI's toll-free Physician Referral and Information
Line at 1-800-822-2762 or on the web at www.aaaai.org.
are ten tips for parents to help their allergic or asthmatic children
stay healthy during the school year:
sure a "School Management Plan" is on file for your child at school.
a meeting with teachers and the school nurse to discuss your child's
condition. Review the School Management Plan and help them understand
your child's condition.
children to take their maintenance medications as prescribed.
Review your child's triggers with them and encourage them to get
help from a teacher when symptoms worsen.
Make sure your child has their medications and peak flow meter
with them at school.
If your child is allergic to certain foods, inform cafeteria staff
of foods to avoid and suggest safe alternatives. Be sure epinephrine
is available and staff know how to administer it.
Inform physical education teachers and coaches about asthma and
warning signs of an attack. Make sure they have a copy of the
School Management Plan.
with your child's school system to address their concerns about
your child's medical needs.
your child's physician to be an information resource for the school.
a physician if your child is having difficulty with learning,
alertness or endurance. These symptoms may be due to side effects
of the child's condition or medications and may be eliminated
with a change in medication.
Reprinted with permission from:
American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology
611 East Wells Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty
organization in the United States representing allergists, asthma
specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals
and others with a special interest in the research and treatment
of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the Academy has more than
6,000 members in the U.S., Canada and 70 other countries. The Academy
serves as an advocate to the public by providing educational information
through its toll-free line at 1-800-822-2762 and its Web site at