Learning about Allergies

Allergies are a common condition in which a person’s immune system resists (fights against) a substance that is not harmful to most people. People can be allergic to common environmental things, like pollen or dust mites, insects, food, and medicine. The reaction varies from person to person, from mild to potentially life-threatening. Some respond on-spot and some bodies react days later.

How the body reacts to the allergens, substance person is allergic to, depends on the person’s sensitivity to that allergen and how it comes in contact with the body. An allergen that is breathed in, like pollen, may cause runny nose and/or watery eyes, and even asthma.

People who are allergic to insects react when their skin comes in contact with their allergen. Most people develop redness or swelling at the site of an insect bite. Some people have severe allergies to insects, like fire ants, spiders, or hornets, and their reactions can be life-threatening. These folks may have itchiness, facial swelling, difficulty breathing, nausea, or dizziness. They may be having a serious reaction and may require immediate medical attention.

When someone is allergic to a specific food, it means he/she cannot come in contact with that allergen. Some react to their food allergen only when they eat it, while others cannot even touch or breathe it. The reaction varies, but it can be a mild or severe rash, bowel discomfort, or serious breathing problems. The most common food allergies are milk, egg, nut, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soybeans. Some have rare food allergies to meat, fruits, vegetables, or seeds.

While most allergies can be controlled by over-the-counter medicines, such as antihistamines, others may require prescriptions or allergy shots. However, some allergens cause life-threatening problems. When a person is severely allergic to something, he/she can have an anaphylactic reaction within minutes. Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include hives, tingling mouth, coughing, shortness of breath, facial swelling, stomach discomfort, and or dizziness. These people require immediate medical attention. Most people know of their anaphylactic allergies to food or insects and carry their auto-injector, such as Epi-pen. These folks need an immediate dose of epinephrine and medical monitoring.

In summary, regardless of whether the person has environmental, food, or drug allergies, the reactions can vary from rash, tingly mouth, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, dizziness, to loss of consciousness. In the complexity of reactions, don’t forget some people react within minutes and some after days. Since avoidance is the best treatment for allergies, the Al Salam Weekend School administration is collaborating with parents and staff members to make sure all their students stay safe.

Keeping Children with Allergies Safe at School

Food Allergies are a serious problem; 1 in 13 children has food allergies, and nearly 40 percent of these children have already experienced a severe allergic reaction. Many of these reactions happen at school. Here at Al-Salam Weekend School, we are taking steps to ensure all of our students are safe and establish an action plan to respond to allergic reactions.

Family’s Responsibility

  •   Notify the school of child’s allergies.
  •   Update school records with current emergencycontacts.
  •   Establish a plan with school staff to accommodatechild’s needs.
  •   Provide proper medications and release in case ofan allergic reaction.
  •   Educate child.
  •   Communicate with staff.

Teacher’s Responsibility in Classroom

  • Be knowledgeable of students’ needs. Learn about specific allergies and reactions. Ask when in doubt.
  • Identify allergens for your classroom and restrict them from being used in your classroom activities.
  • Use of edible treats as rewards and incentives should be avoided in all classrooms to be inclusive to all students.
  • Support parents with children with food allergies who want to provide safe lunches and snacks.
  • Be conscious of environmental and insectallergies.
  • Communicate with parents and administration.

Administration’s Responsibilities

  • Be knowledgeable of students’ allergies and update students’ records appropriately.
  • Maintain confidentiality.
  • Be empathetic and supportive to student’s needsand include them in school activities.
  • Educate all staff members and students so anallergic reaction can be reported in timely manner.
  • Establish a prevention and action plan andcommunicate with parents and all staff members.
  • Designate a place for first aid and students’medicines, and have it readily available for access by office personals. Have students’ medicine, such as Benadryl or Epi-pen, labeled with name and instruction.

Lunch Staff’s Responsibility

  • Establish communication with parents and administration to learn about food allergies among student body.
  • Encourage children, school staff, and volunteers to wash hands before and after handling or consuming food.
  • Avoid ordering lunch with identified food allergens.
  • Plan lunch menus ahead of time so parents can provide safe lunch if needed.
  • Support parents with children with food allergies who want to provide safe lunches and snacks.