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Tips for handling allergies at school

It's important to talk to teachers about your child's special needs due to nasal allergies. You'll help your child do better, academically and socially.

Nasal allergies are triggered by pollens from trees and grasses as well as by indoor allergens such as house dust mites, mould and animal dander (dead skin cells). Children with allergies to these substances react by having symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and other problems.

Each year, thousands of children face a struggle to make the grade in their summer exams because of the debilitating effect of hayfever.

Around 38% of young people have hayfever - also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. In Allergy UK surveys of parents, 31% said their child struggled to concentrate, while 22% said the condition made their life a misery.

Around 40% of children can drop a grade between mocks and final exams because of their hayfever.

Here are tips on how to help your child minimise the effects of nasal allergies at school:

Meet the teacher

After your child is diagnosed with nasal allergies, ask for a meeting with teachers and the school nurse if there is one. Make sure each is aware of the diagnosis of childhood allergies and what needs to be done.

Allergy protocols

Create an 'allergy card' to give to the teacher, and to others who may benefit from having it. On it, include details about your child’s allergies, such as what triggers the allergy symptoms. List the names and doses of medications taken, any allergies to other medication, and your child's typical nasal allergy symptoms. Include your work, home, and mobile telephone numbers and a backup emergency contact. Update the card annually or when medications or symptoms change.

Ask your child's teachers to alert you to sudden signs of inattention or lack of focus. It could mean that your child is not getting enough sleep due to nasal allergy flare-ups or that the allergy medication needs adjustment.

Ask your child's teachers to also alert you to coughing, a possible sign that allergy symptoms are getting worse. Red eyes are another overlooked symptom associated with nasal allergies.

Find out what your school policy is about having medications at school and what the procedure is for your child to obtain medications when needed.

Since Autumn 2017 schools are allowed to buy and store spare auto-injectors to deliver doses of adrenaline to pupils who develop a severe allergic reaction. Previously, auto-injectors were prescription-only medicines issued to named pupils. An update to the law permits school staff to administer an emergency dose from an auto-injector to any child who has been assessed as at risk of anaphylaxis. Check what your school's policy is on this - as keeping the devices is not compulsory.

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