Kids With Allergies Need to Prepare For Back to School
Every kid with seasonal allergies or asthma – from kindergarten on up – must be prepared to go back to school ready to face triggers that could set them sneezing and wheezing with red, itchy eyes. Every kid with a food allergy, no matter the age, needs to be on alert to make sure they know what foods to avoid and what to do if they have a severe allergic reaction at school.
“Every age group is different in how much they can handle when it comes to protecting themselves from flare-ups due to allergies and asthma while at school, as well as severe allergic reactions from food allergies,” says allergist Dr. Noah Agada. “But every student wants to feel good and be free from their triggers when they’re away from home.”
Below are four tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology to assist parents in guiding children of every age towards an allergy- and asthma-free school day.
Pre-K – 4th grade – At this age, kids need their parents to be their advocate, to step up and speak for them if they’re not able. Talk with your child’s teacher before school starts to let them know what your child’s allergies are and what kind of reaction they might have to allergens in the classroom. Reach out to the school nurse and administrators to make sure a health plan is in place for your child. And take time to tour your child’s classroom to see for yourself if there is anything which can set off allergies, such as wall-to-wall carpeting or a class pet.
5th through 8th grade – Your child has probably reached the age where they can speak up for themselves if there are things in their classroom or cafeteria which may cause an allergic reaction. However, you’ll be the one filling out their school registration, and it’s important to note if they have allergies or asthma, need to carry medications or need to avoid certain foods. All states have laws protecting students’ rights to carry and use asthma and anaphylaxis medications at school, and your child should know how to use their medications in an emergency.
High School – Kids in high school can have challenges due to peer pressure and not wanting to stick out in the crowd. At this age, they know how to use their medications and epinephrine auto-injector but may not want to always carry or use them. Encourage your high schooler to see self-care as a “next step” in their journey towards independence and let them know you’re there for them if they have questions or problems.
College – Your child leaving for college represents their biggest hurdle yet in making sure they know how to prevent allergy and asthma flares. While they may be thinking you’ll still be around to assist them with their medical matters, help them understand it’s time to take a more active role. They’ll need to contact school administrators to discuss necessary arrangements for their dorm room and meals. And if they are moving far from home they’ll need to find a new allergist and pharmacy.
No matter your child’s age, plan to see an allergist this summer. A board-certified allergist is the specialist best trained to treat your child’s allergies or asthma. Work with them to make sure your child’s allergy medications are appropriate for their height and weight, their asthma action plan is up-to-date and that symptoms are under control.