Young Children’s Health Issues: Food Allergies By: Chelsea Burns
Food Allergies A food allergy occurs when your immune system mistakenly treats something in a certain food as harmful to you. Antibodies to something in the food cause mast cells to release chemicals into the bloodstream. One of these chemicals is histamine. The histamine then causes symptoms that affect a persons eyes, nose, throat, respiratory system, skin, and digestive system. A person with a food allergy could have a mild reaction or it could be more severe. An allergic reaction could happen right away or a few hours after the person eats it.
Signs/Symptoms Doctors believe that allergies could be hereditary. Some kids are born allergic to certain foods, whereas others develop food allergies over time. This may be due to someones surroundings or changes in the body as they grow older. Some of the first signs that a person may be having an allergic reaction could be a runny nose, an itchy skin rash such as hives, or a tingling in the tongue or lips. Other signs include:- tightness in the throat, hoarse voice, wheezing, cough, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea
Signs/Symptoms In the most serious casesa food allergy can cause anaphylaxis; a sudden severe allergic reaction in which several problems occur all at once. A persons blood pressure can drop, breathing tubes can narrow, and the tongue can swell. People at risk for this kind of a reaction have to be very careful and need a plan for handling emergencies. They may need to get special medicine to stop these symptoms from getting worse. Many kids outgrow allergies to milk and eggs as they grow older. But severe allergies to foods like peanuts, certain kinds of fish, and shrimp often last a lifetime.
Management There is no special medicine for food allergies. Some can be outgrown, and others a child will have his or her whole life. The best treatment is simply to avoid the food itself and any foods or drinks that contain the food. One way to figure that out is to read food labels. Any foods that might cause an allergic reaction will be listed near or in the ingredient list. Doctors and allergy organizations also can help by providing lists of safe foods and unsafe foods. No matter how hard you try, you may eat the wrong thing by accident. Stay calm and follow your emergency plan. The plan should include what to do, who to tell, and which medicines to take if you have a reaction. For serious reactions, people may need a shot of epinephrine with them. This kind of epinephrine injection comes in an easy-to-carry container that looks like a pen. It is important to identify a person who will give you the shot.
ManagementPARENTS MUST TEACH CHILDREN: How to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction How to communicate clearly as soon as possible when a reaction begins How to read labels To avoid food-sharing at lunch time To stress the importance of handwashing before and after eating To report teasing, bullying and threats to an adult authority To not share their auto-injector devices with other students How to say "no thank you" when offered food not from home.
Food Allergies at School As a teacher you need to be prepared when notified of a child’s food allergy. If the student is younger they may not know how to tell if certain foods contain things they are allergic to or not. You must keep the child under close observation and know the parent’s Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP) for the child. The parents first job is to develop an Individualized Health Care Plan (IHCP) that should include reports from primary health-care providers or allergy specialists that details the students allergy and medication program.The FAAP provides informed consent and contact numbers for parents, guardians, and health care providers.Parents should review the IHCP and FAAP with the school nurse and classroom teacher each year prior to the opening of school. Parents must provide schools with a minimum of two up-to-date EpiPens® or Twinject® devices and be sure that these devices are stored in an unlocked cabinet and accessible to all school personnel during and after school hours. Parents should provide safe snacks for classroom parties and whenever possible, accompany food-allergic children on field trips.
Food Allergies at School The school plays a vital role in training personnel and setting up systems to keep food allergic children safe at school, and to promptly respond when a reaction occurs. As a teacher of a child with a severe food allergy you may be given the responsibility of being the first responder. The biggest decision for the first responder will be whether or not to administer injectableepinephrine. Often there is hesitancy and a delay in administering epinephrine. When in doubt about whether to give epinephrine, it is better to give it immediately and then seek additional medical attention as most fatal reactions occur when epinephrine is delayed. Anyone who requires epinephrine in the school setting should be transported to an emergency room for additional evaluation and treatment.
Sources Nemours KidsHealth. Food Allergies. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/allergiesimmune /food_allergies.html# Kids with Food Allergies Foundation. (April 2010) Managing Food Allergies at School. Retrieved from http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/resourcespre.php?i d=84