Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to School with Food Allergies

I love the end of summer- the mixed weather of warm and cool.  It reminds me that soon the beauty of fall will arrive.  The end of summer also brings the excitement of going back to school- seeing old friends, meeting your new teacher, and the anticipation of a new year.

For parents and children with food allergies, going back to school may bring on feelings worry about an accidental food allergy exposure.  Did you know about 3 million children suffer from food allergies!  The most common ones are peanut, eggs, milk, wheat, tree nuts and soy. 

Here are some simple tips that hopefully help alleviate any anxiety or fear you might have about an accidental food exposure.

  • Meet with your child's teacher, principle, and/or school nurse prior to starting school to make them aware of the allergy
  • Fill out any school forms that the school requires to have epinephrine & any other medications on site.
  • If your child has a severe allergy, you might consider a bracelet  Allermates has some fun ones for children.   Putting allergy stickers on their cups/lunch bags/clothes is a great option for young children You can customize them at Allergy Stickers.
  • Make sure that they know how to administer the medication.  Did you know that NYS training on delivery of epinephrine is not mandatory for school nurses/teachers.
  • Talk about common signs of an allergic reaction:  hives, swelling, cough, shortness of breath, vomiting, and even anaphylaxis.
  • Good news! A generic epinephrine auto-injector recently came to market.  This will help reduce your costs.  The training for the device is a little different from Epi-Pen so make sure that everyone at school/home knows how to use the device that's available in your school.
  • Teach your child how to ask about the ingredients in snacks and to talk about their food allergies with their friends.
  • Pack allergy free snacks.  You might include enough to share with other kids.
  • Think about areas outside of the cafeteria where there might be an exposure- field trips, art class and school parties.
Hopefully, these simple tips will help you prevent any accidental exposures this upcoming school year!

Need more specific advice or training on how to use an epinephrine pen?  Please email jcollins@gramercyallergy.com or call the office for an appointment 212-679-3574.  We are located at 205 East 22nd Street @ 3rd Ave, NY NY 10010.

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