Dealing with Severe Allergies in Children

November 19, 2012 - 2 minutes read

child-care-2If you run children’s programs or activities in your church it’s important to be aware of any kids in your care who suffer from serious allergic conditions, and to have procedures in place for dealing with severe reactions that occur. While in many cases allergies are not serious, in some instances the reactions can be severe enough to be life-threatening and require fast medical intervention.

What substances can cause allergic reactions?

Generally the following may cause problems for some individuals:

  • Foods – dairy, eggs, nuts, fish, soy products and sesame seeds.
  • Insects – dust mites and bites or stings from ants, bees, wasps or ticks.
  • Plants – pollen from plants and grasses.
  • Animals – dander from cats, dogs or other animals.
  • Other – mould spores, chemical products, perfumes, and some medications.

What sort of reactions can occur?

Allergic reactions can range from mild to very severe, including sneezing, itchy eyes or mouth, runny nose, wheezing and coughing, asthma, headaches, and rashes. In very severe cases the allergic person might go into anaphylactic shock – a condition that can result in swelling of the face, tongue and throat, difficulty breathing and talking, vomiting, a drop in blood-pressure, and loss of consciousness. This condition affects about one in 200 individuals, and if left untreated, can be life-threatening. It’s important that staff members and volunteers caring for children are aware of how to administer treatments for anaphylaxis.

What is the treatment?

Anaphylaxis has no known cure, and must be treated quickly with adrenaline. This can be done by trained personnel through use of an EpiPen which is injected into the thigh of the patient. It’s also important that church leaders and childcare workers do all they can to prevent a reaction occurring in the first place – by carefully avoiding exposure to allergens. This may involve banning certain food substances from kids’ activities such as peanuts.

More information on anaphylactic shock can be found at the Better Health Channel and Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia.

Written by Tess Oliver

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