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Managing Food Allergy In Schools

Aug 30, 2008
Food allergy is a serious condition that can threaten the lives of people especially students at school. Food allergy also known as food hypersensitivity is the immune system's reaction to the types of food containing protein or other ingredients. Thus, a certified allergist is needed to diagnose food allergy.

The symptoms of food allergy may greatly vary among individuals because of different exposures to food allergens. The time of attacks and severity also depend on the reaction to the types of food that are eaten. Food allergy's most common symptoms include: skin irritations like hives, eczema, and rashes; gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea; and runny nose, breath shortness, and sneezing.

If not treated properly, severe reactions can lead to anaphylaxis, a fatal condition that requires instant medical attention. This is manifested by speedy onset of concurrent reactions such as hives, itching, swollen throat, difficult breathing, low blood pressure, and unconsciousness at some instances.

However, if food allergy management is incorporated, students can be handled without too much risk. The secret to its effectiveness lies on knowing and doing the responsibilities of the concerned parties. In this manner, students with food allergies are provided with a safe and sound educational environment.

The family of students with food allergy should notify the school about their condition. They must work with the school's administration to create a plan on how to accommodate the needs of their children inside the classroom, cafeteria, post-care programs, school bus, FAAP (Food Allergy Action Plan), and sponsored activities in school. Medical instructions, documentations, and medications provided by the child's physician through the FAAP must be submitted including photos.

Medicines must be disposed upon expiration or replaced after use with proper labels. Parents should educate their children about unsafe and safe types of food, strategies to avoid unsafe types of food, allergic symptoms, reading labels of types of food, and right time to tell adult once allergic symptoms occur. Review procedures and policies with your child, child's physician, and school staff. Never forget to give contact information in case of emergency.

The school should be knowledgeable regarding federal laws and any district or state policies. They must review the student's health records provided by their physicians and parents. They must create a school team which are composed of a school principal, nurses, teachers, school food services, counselor, and nutrition director to work effectively with both students and parents and establish a major prevention plan.

Students with food allergy must be included in all school activities. Fieldtrips and no eating rules on school busses must be thoroughly discussed with parents and administrators. School staff with direct contacts to the students knows about food allergy, recognizes its symptoms, coordinates with other staff to get rid of allergens in the meals, school projects, educational tools, or incentives of allergic students.

Proper coordination and cooperation of all school staff is needed so that FAAP becomes efficient and effective. All medications are properly secure and accessible within school premises. However, regulations stated in the federal laws must be strictly followed.

The students should never trade different types of food with other students, eat types of food without knowing its ingredients, participate actively on the FAAP, and immediately notify adults in cases of emergency.

Students can outgrow their food allergies through proper management. Making this as part of their daily activities can enhance safety as well as food enjoyment throughout their lives. Planning well and joining forces together will definitely end well.
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