Allergists’ offices are often busy in August as children prepare to go back to school, according to information from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
“The parents and I discuss school plans for the child’s allergies at back-to-school visits in July and August,” Janna Tuck, MD, an allergist in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and ACAAI spokesperson, told Healio.com/Allergy. “The most time-consuming issue is filling out [medication and food allergy action plans] school forms.”
Often, there is no consistent formatting of the forms, Tuck said. “One school may have a very simple one page form and another may have up to 10 pages of quite redundant and complex forms.”
More than 10 million children aged 18 years or younger have asthma, and 11% experience respiratory allergies, according to a press release from ACAAI. About 6% of children have been diagnosed with food allergies.
On any given day, more than 10,000 kids miss school due to asthma, according to the release. However, study results indicate that children with asthma under the care of an allergist have a 77% reduction in lost time from school, the release stated.
An action plan should include a list of substances that trigger a child's allergies or asthma, and a list of medications taken by the child, the release stated. It also should include how to handle emergencies. Children who are at risk for anaphylaxis should have access to epinephrine, with the child and school staff being instructed on how to use emergency medications.
The ACAAI provided additional tips on ways to help keep children symptom-free during the school year:
- Parents should make an appointment with their child’s teacher and/or school administrator to walk through the classroom to look for allergy triggers such as a classroom pet, pollen and dust. They should also be aware that classmates with a pet at home can also trigger an allergic reaction in other children, since these allergens can be transferred via clothing and backpacks.
- Children with asthma and other allergic diseases should be able to participate in sports, as long as an allergist’s advice is followed, according to the release. Asthma symptoms during exercise might be the result of poorly-controlled medication.
- If children are exercising outdoors, the ACAAI advises parents to check the pollen levels where they live and to begin medications two weeks prior to when levels will be at their worst.