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RVA Parenting: Back to school tips from the pros on food and seasonal allergies

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Sending a child with allergies back to school can be scary, but it doesn't have to be if you are equipped with the right plan and tools.

Experts say, most importantly, remind your child about what to know and what to avoid.  

“It’s important for parents to review with their kids exactly what their allergy is,” Dr. Morgan Cheatham with Bon Secours says. “What they need to be avoiding. So, the most common allergies for kiddos are eggs, soy, hay, wheat, and then the more severe ones tend to be tree nut and peanut allergies.”
 
Dr. Morgan says it’s critical to go over an emergency plan with your child, his or her teacher, and the school.

“Some of the websites, like the EpiPen website, have forms that you can download, fill out, take to school and put a photo of your child on and indicate what their allergy is,” Cheatham says. “[The form will also tell you] what to do in the event of a severe allergic reaction. “

Here's a quick an easy guide you can follow on the EpiPen website:

  1. Avoid your known allergens
  2. Recognize the signs and signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis
  3. Have immediate access to two epinephrine auto-injectors at all times (Why two?)
  4. Seek immediate emergency medical care should anaphylaxis occur

Dr. Morgan also recommends attaching a photo of your child to that plan. So in an emergency, if your kid can't talk, the picture and plan can.

If your kid doesn't have allergies, it’s still a good idea to talk about allergies. That way, your child can help recognize warning signs.

Also, if you're a room parent, or preparing food for a class, be sensitive to allergies other students might have.

Finally, our experts say check the expiration date on your child's EpiPen.

“If your child needs an EpiPen, it’s important to make sure that it’s in date,” said Dr. Cheatham. “EpiPens are only good for about a year. There’s an expiration date printed on the actual pen itself, so, check the actual date. If it’s out of date, make sure you go in and get a new prescription from your physician. You want to have one at school for your child, as well as at home.”
 
When it comes to seasonal allergies, our experts recommend making an appointment with your doctor.

It’s important to figure out what is causing your child’s allergies and what might help.

Changes as simple as showering before bed to wash off the allergens, or changing clothes, could give your child some relief.
 
“There’s a lot of allergens inside of the home,” Dr. Cheatham says.  “Trying to control exposure to allergens is a big part of managing it. So, ou’re going to want to have kids maybe leave their shoes at the door, so they’re not leaving dust, pollen, into the house. Make sure you’re changing your air filters in the house.”
           
Parents, be careful what kind of medication you give your child.

Some, like Benadryl, could make a child sleepy. Others, like Sudafedren that can really help with nasal congestion, but there is a disadvantage. "But they can also have a stimulating affect,” Cheatham explains. “It can make your child irritable or more hyperactive in class, so that might not be something you want to use in the morning.”
           

Dr. Cheatham says Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra are all great options.

We also have an RVA Parenting Facebook group, and we'd love for you to join.

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