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Frequently asked questions
A child has an adrenaline auto-injector, antihistamine and a salbutamol inhaler, what happens to these when they are in the playground or on the sports field and there is an emergency? How can I ensure they are given promptly?
The salbutamol inhaler and adrenaline auto-injector should be available in close proximity to these outside areas, where they can be immediately accessed by the pupil themselves or the member of staff in charge of the child. This process should be covered by medicine management in school policy.
What happens on school trips, when on coaches, trains & aeroplane journeys?
This is where whole school allergy awareness groups formulating robust policy and procedures take into consideration all aspects of school life. An inhaler and adrenaline auto-injector is normally carried by senior school children for whom they are prescribed or by the accompanying adult for younger children.
Can an allergic child be given food during school dinners that doesn’t contain that allergen, or would they have to have packed lunches?
Parents are responsible for supplying the school staff and caterers with required information about their child's allergy. The school should ensure that the caterers and other staff have sufficient training in food allergy management. There is now legislation around food labelling of 14 allergens.
Should schools be nut-free, or what is the best approach to deal with this issue?
A complete nut free school is an artificial environment that would not be the same as the 'real world'. We believe that a 'whole school awareness of Allergy' is a much better approach, as it will make teachers, pupils and all other staff aware of what allergy is, the importance of avoiding the child/young persons triggers, the signs & symptoms, how to deal with allergic reactions and facilitate 'duty of care' procedures to minimise risk.
How can a child’s school ensure their safety from a severe allergic reaction?
Avoidance of the child's allergic trigger is key, but there are rarely any absolute certainties in life so by having allergy awareness, clear policy and procedures that recognise the allergic child and a clear management pathway of what to do if that child has an allergic reaction, risk can be minimised and situations can be promptly dealt with in the most appropriate way.
Should children be isolated at lunchtime due to concerns they will have an allergic reaction to food in the canteen?
In the world outside school people with allergy are not isolated. Education in safe management should enable pupils with allergy to be integrated not isolated.
What types of things do we need to include in an allergy awareness policy? What protocols do we need to have?
The required policies, protocols and procedures are all included in the Schools Allergy Awareness programme resource pack, which schools can sign up to access here on Allergy UK's website.
What age should children be carrying their own adrenaline auto-injectors?
Much depends on the individual child and the school. Some younger children are trained to carry their adrenaline auto-injectors, but generally by secondary school children should be carrying their own.
What are the symptoms of anaphylactic shock?
Feeling lightheaded or faint
Breathing difficulties – such as fast, shallow breathing
A fast heartbeat
Confusion and anxiety
Collapsing or losing consciousness
A feeling of impending doom
What steps should I take if I think myself or someone else is experiencing the symptoms of anaphylaxis?
Use an adrenaline auto-injector if the person has one – but make sure you know how to use it correctly first.
Call 999 for an ambulance immediately (even if they start to feel better) – mention that you think the person has anaphylaxis.
Remove any trigger if possible – for example, carefully remove any wasp or bee sting stuck in the skin.
Lie the person down flat with their legs raised – unless they're unconscious, pregnant or having breathing difficulties.
Give another injection after 5-15 minutes if the symptoms don't improve and a second auto-injector is available
If you're having an anaphylactic reaction, you can follow these steps yourself if you feel able to.
What are the most common allergens which can trigger anaphylaxis?
Foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, cows milk and eggs however a number of other foods can cause anaphylaxis
Insect venom such as wasp and bee stings
Medicines (e.g. antibiotics, aspirin, chlorhexidine, anaesthetic drugs)
Latex (e.g. ballons, gloves, condoms)