Caring for Anaphylactics in School
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is the name given to a severe allergic reaction. Allergies to peanuts and tree nuts are the most common trigger for such reactions, but a number of other allergens can cause anaphylaxis, including egg, milk, fish, sesame, soya, penicillin, latex, kiwi fruit and insect stings. It can be life-threatening if it is not treated quickly with adrenaline. However, experts agree that it is very definitely manageable with precautionary procedures and support from school staff.
The number of children at risk of anaphylaxis is on the increase. One in 70 children in the UK is allergic to peanuts, and the number of those affected by other anaphylaxis-related allergens appears to be rising. Such children are not ill in the usual sense of the word, but otherwise healthy children who may become very unwell if they come into contact with a certain food or substance.
The symptoms can vary considerably. The milder reactions can involve itchiness or swelling in the mouth, an uncomfortable skin rash, sickness or nausea. Serious symptoms include a severe drop in blood pressure, in which the person affected becomes weak and debilitated, severe asthma, or swelling which causes the throat to close.
What Does the School Do?
The Queen's School takes anaphylaxis extremely seriously as we have a number of the children at the school with allergies and a number of these have severe anaphylaxis. All of our staff have regular EpiPen (pre-loaded adrenaline auto-injector) training and following amendments to The Human Medicines Act in 2017 we carry spare EpiPens to be used in emergencies.
What Can Parents Do?
If your child is anaphylactic it is vital that the school is aware of this and that a Health Plan is put into place agreed with yourself, your GP and the school. If you have any queries about individual Health Plans,please contact the school office.
If your child is not anaphylactic then it is vital that you adhere to our school guidelines on snack and packed lunches on the School Lunches page. To summarise, we have a strict no nuts policy (this includes products containing nuts such as pesto and Nutella). Hummus contains tahini, a sesame seed paste, which some children with nut allergies are sensitive to, so hummus should not be bought into school.