Tips for parents of food allergic children

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Parenting

Food allergy is a major concern for almost all parents. There is no specific cause for an allergic reaction and it usually occurs on consumption of certain specific foods items like shellfish, milk, nuts or eggs. You can be allergic to one or more food items and a reaction may be caused on eating in the school cafeteria or from your friend's lunchbox.

It is important to find the exact cause of the food allergy and then treat it appropriately. The degrees of allergic reactions vary from mild to severe. The common symptoms associated with a reaction are hives and breathing difficulties. Death due to an anaphylactic shock can also occur if the allergic reaction is very severe. Statistics claim that almost 200 children and adults die annually due to allergic reactions. 

You can make the school atmosphere safer for your child by consulting with the school teachers and cafeteria authorities. This can be done by informing the school about the food allergy that your child is suffering from. It is important that you should include all details regarding the allergy. The cause and the symptoms should be highlighted. The appropriate medicines to be taken and the required dose if a reaction is triggered should also be notified. If necessary, you can also ask the school authorities to keep a stock of medicine in the school's infirmary.

You should hand over the class teacher a few emergency numbers through which you can be contacted in case of an emergency. It is imperative that you check and update the emergency contact information if required at the start of a new school term every year.

This can help ease your fears as well as ensure the safety of your child.

There is no cure for an allergy and the best solution is to prevent the intake of those food items that cause the allergy. The most common medication prescribed by doctors in case of a reaction is a dose of epinephrine. In few cases it is seen that the doctor may prescribe you the use of an Autoinjector. It is available in the market under the brand name EpiPen(R). This device is used specifically for injecting epinephrine. An advisable thing to do would be to educate the teacher in charge about the usage of this device. It is extremely helpful especially if your child is going on a field trip for a few days. 

Lastly, you should educate your child about the allergy and give him a complete list of the food items he must avoid in all cases. Take care to see that he is able to notify his friends or his teacher immediately if he is suffering from a reaction. He should also be aware of the emergency options available to him in his school.

Often, a child hesitates to inform his friends or teachers, hoping that the problem will pass away on its own. You must advise your child not to wait, but inform the teacher immediately. This can go a long way in reducing the intensity of the reaction.