Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues
Fatal Food Allergies
A Chesterfield first-grader died Monday following an apparent allergic reaction. Ammaria Johnson, 7, was allergic to peanuts, her family has said.
Food allergies are fairly common these days. Luckily, dying from them is not.
As veteran parents of kids with food allergies know, it’s important–and time-consuming–to stay on top of everything, especially during the school years. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has a lot of great tools to help with this. Here is their parents’ guide to managing allergies in the schools. It walks you through the different plans you’ll need to have on file with the school, explaining how special plans like 504 or individualized education plans can also include allergy information. The guide also recommends that you meet with your child’s school nurse.
The network also has a checklist for teachers.
The network offers these helpful do’s and don’ts during a serious allergic reaction:
- Do learn the symptoms of anaphylaxis and teach others how to recognize anaphylaxis is occurring (i.e., child care providers, school staff, close friends, etc.).
- Do talk to your doctor about epinephrine. Epinephrine, not antihistamine, is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. If you have been prescribed this medication, be sure to understand when to use it. FAAN’s Food Allergy Action Plan can help.
- Do become familiar with how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Practice with an auto-injector trainer so that you will learn how to quickly administer medication without losing precious time to read the instructions. If you have an expired epinephrine auto-injector, consider injecting it into an orange or grapefruit to practice its use.
- Do carry your epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times.
- Do call 911 as soon as epinephrine has been administered. Tell the ambulance dispatch that an allergic reaction is occurring, and that more epinephrine may be needed.
- Do follow up with your doctor after a reaction is treated. Review how the mistake happened, and work out a plan to avoid repeating the mistake in the future.
- Don’t try to “tough out” a reaction; treat symptoms quickly!
- Don’t drive yourself and/or your child to the emergency room during an allergic reaction; call 911 instead.
- Don’t assume the reaction is over as soon as symptoms begin to resolve. A second reaction, also known as a biphasic reaction, could occur up to 4 hours after the initial symptoms go away. Seek medical attention promptly and plan for an observation period of about 4 hours to make sure that the reaction has been resolved.
- Don’t be left without your medication. If you have used your epinephrine auto-injector to treat a reaction, refill it quickly. Do not carry expired epinephrine; keep your supply up-to-date.
So, what are your experiences with food allergies? Does your child have them? How do you deal with the schools?