For kids who live with allergies and asthma, back-to-school can spell trouble with symptoms.
Late summer/early fall is the height of ragweed season. When you add in exposure to environmental factors found in school classrooms, playing fields and eating areas, you have the perfect recipe to jump start your child’s otherwise-under-control allergy and asthma symptoms.
These six steps from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) can help get your child off on the right foot for the school year. Feeling as good as possible means being able to stay focused on learning.
1. Schedule an appointment with your child’s allergist
Before the first bell rings, make an appointment with a board-certified allergist. Allergists have the best training and medical expertise to offer the most effective treatments for your child’s allergies and asthma. Your allergist can work with you to create an allergy action plan to help your child’s teacher understand your child’s triggers, as well as how to control allergy flares. According to ACAAI, children who see an allergist have fewer missed school days! Use the ACAAI Find an Allergist tool to locate an allergist in your area.
2. Be aware of potential problems in the school building
As anyone who lives with allergies can attest, a school building can be a minefield of allergens. New carpeting can release volatile organic compounds, open windows let in pollen, classroom pets can release dander and bathrooms can harbor mold. It can be helpful to take a tour of the school ahead of time and discuss your child’s triggers with their teacher or school administrators. They can work with you to minimize the impact on your child.
3. Make sure ragweed doesn’t cut your child’s game short
Even with allergies or asthma, your child should be able to enjoy the activities they love — on the playground, in the gym and on the playing field. The key is to follow your allergist’s advice. For seasonal allergens like ragweed, it’s especially important to think ahead to avoidance and treatment, so if your child has a reaction, your child’s coaches and teachers know what to do.
4. Know how the school responds to allergy emergencies
Knowing how the school handles allergy and asthma emergencies can bring peace of mind. What happens if your child can’t find their rescue inhaler? Does the school keep extra supplies of asthma medications? Which teachers are trained to respond to a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis from a food allergy or bee sting? Who calls 911 and when? Review your district’s policy and, if needed, set up a meeting with the school nurse. Who knows? You may be the one to call attention to a critical missing step!
5. Consider long-term treatments like allergy immunotherapy
Many kids with moderate to severe allergies can benefit from allergy immunotherapy — regular treatments delivered through shots and under-the-tongue tablets. These treatments gradually “train” the body’s immune system to become less sensitive and reactive to the things that make your child wheeze and sneeze. Talk to your child’s allergist to learn more and find out if it’s a good option for your child.
6. Don’t have an allergist for your child? Find one!
A board-certified allergist can set your child on the right track, for the long term, to handle their allergies or asthma in school and at home. To find one, visit the ACAAI allergist locator. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.