Food allergies have been a growing public health issue that impacts almost every school across the United States; the most common food allergies in children include nuts, cow’s milk, soy, seafood, wheat and eggs. Parents whose kids have severe food allergies know they can’t be too careful — in a child allergic to peanuts, one taste of peanut butter could cause a deadly reaction.
The most common food allergy symptoms include:
- Tingling or itching in the mouth
- Hives, itching or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body
- Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
In some people, a food allergy can trigger a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This can cause life-threatening symptoms, including:
- Constriction and tightening of airways
- A swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe
- Shock, with a severe drop in blood pressure
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
Emergency treatment is critical for anaphylaxis. Untreated, anaphylaxis can cause a coma or death.
Food allergies don’t have to get in the way of back-to-school excitement for little ones. In addition to communicating with your child’s teacher, make sure faculty, staff, school nurse, and food service staff are aware of your child’s allergies and medications, and make sure everyone knows how to handle an emergency situation. Parents should also have a Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP) which details what to do in the event of a reaction and lists the types of foods your child is allergic to as well as signs and symptoms of a reaction.
Many parents of young children will go the extra step with temporary tattoos, wristbands, bracelets, and necklaces. SafteyTats is a temporary tattoo for kids allergy alerts, customized with one line or two lines of information, such as “Alert: Peanut Allergy” or “Allergic to Bee Stings.” Allermates provides allergy identification wristbands, dog tags, and more that clearly identify a child’s allergies.
While it is important to remember that food allergies can be potentially life-threatening, with a little planning they don’t have to get in the way of back-to-school excitement!
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.