Updated: Jul 2, 2020
May 10th-16th is Food Allergy Awareness Week.
The cutie in the photo above is my nephew. At a young age, his parents found out he has a tree nut allergy. Thankfully, he has never needed to use his epinephrine injector.
We all know someone who has at least one food allergy. For those caring for a child with food allergies, it‘a a full time job- from reading labels to remembering to always carry around his or her epinephrine injector.
How can we ensure the safety of our child with food allergies while sheltering in place during the COVID19 pandemic?
· Read labels. Then re-read them. It is important to always read through ingredients prior to serving food to your child with food allergies
· Get your child involved. Make sure your child knows what his or her allergies are and how to avoid them
· Have designated areas in the pantry and refrigerator for SAFE versus UNSAFE foods. Better yet, if the food item is not essential in your household, avoid bringing it in your home at all
· Clean surfaces frequently to avoid cross contamination
· Use separate utensils if allergenic foods are consumed in the house (have separate utensils for each child and family member)
· If allergenic foods are being served, ensure your child is not sitting next to or near the individual consuming that particular food item
How can I prepare for when my child with food allergies goes back to school?
· Make sure to have non-expired epinephrine injectors for school as well as updated medication authorization forms completed
· Know where your child’s emergency medications are stored while at school. If he or she is old enough and developmentally appropriate you should get a “self carry” form competed
· Have good communication with the school’s administrators, teachers, cafeteria staff, bus drivers etc. regarding your child’s food allergies
· Make sure that your child’s friends and their parents are also aware of his or her food allergies as well as the treatment plan
· If there are upcoming field trips, inquire about chaperones, if the nurse will be attending, and who will carry your child’s emergency medications. It is also important to find out specific details about the field trip- where they are going, if snacks or meals will be served etc.
· Be sure that the cafeteria is following proper cleaning procedures to avoid cross contamination and potential exposure
· Depending on your child’s food allergies and specific situation, it might be advised to pack lunch versus buying school-prepared lunches
· Be aware of classroom assignments that can contain food items. Many science or art classes may use food items in their demonstrations and projects- ensure your child has a replacement or substitution for the item being used if necessary
· Have your child carry hand sanitizer or wipes to use and encourage good hand hygiene
· If your child rides the bus it is essential that the bus driver is aware of his or her emergency plan
· Talk with your child. Be sure he or she is not being bullied due to their food allergies
· Does your child have a 504 plan for his or her food allergy?
Know the potential symptoms of anaphylaxis and share this information with friends, teachers, co-workers, family members, neighbors etc. Initial symptoms can be mild- i.e. runny nose or rash. These symptoms can progress quickly. These symptoms include:
· Difficulty breathing
· Throat tightness or tickling feeling
· Swelling of lips/tongue/mouth
· Wheezing, coughing, or chest tightness
· Abdominal pain
· Nausea and/or vomiting
· Worsening rash, hives
· Anxiety, panic, and/or confusion
· Chest pain
· Low blood pressure
· Rapid heart rate
· Cardiac arrest
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency! No amount of Benadryl will stop anaphylaxis from occurring. Epinephrine must be administered. This is why it is so important to always have it with you and ensure the school has up-to-date epinephrine auto injectors.
Until next time,