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Preparing for Back to School: Kids & Food Allergies

For parents of children with food allergies, education and communication are key to a successful and safe school year. Creating a partnership between parents, physicians, teachers, the school nurse, coaches, and other school staff is important for food allergy management, as all of them play a role in keeping the classroom and food allergic children safe. You even need to think about volunteers in the school – especially chaperones during field trips. Kids spend upwards of 8-10 hours at school away from their parents; therefore, it truly requires a team effort to ensure that this environment is safe for them.

When it comes to food allergies, education is extremely important. In general, understanding the signs of an extreme allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis can help you recognize the symptoms and call for help. Possible symptoms include hives, wheezing, throat swelling, stomach pain, vomiting or passing out. No matter the allergy, parents can work with their child’s allergist to create an emergency anaphylaxis plan. This plan should list all of the child’s known allergies, the child’s medication dosage and what to do if the child has an allergic reaction. Once they’ve put this plan together, it can be a tool to educate and share with teachers and caretakers.

Epi-pens are common tools used to treat severe allergic reactions, and most children with severe allergies may benefit from having one nearby. If your child needs to have one on hand, it’s important that their teachers, caregivers and the school nurse are aware and know how to use one. Fortunately, Cone Health has a network of allergy/immunology specialists and related healthcare providers dedicated to treating allergies and improving the quality of life of those who suffer from the condition.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Joel Gallagher is an allergy and immunology specialist at the Allergy and Asthma Center of NC.  Dr. Gallagher received his Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Arkansas and completed medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He completed his pediatric residency at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, NC.  His fellowship in Clinical Allergy and Immunology was completed at the Medical College of Wisconsin.