Managing medical concerns at school and on excursions is one of my biggest worries as a teacher! Keeping anaphylactic children safe at school & on excursions is at the top of that list. Since a reaction can be almost instant from the allergen and has a cascading effect. This means the longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to recover. However, despite this serious concern, it just means effective strategies need to be in place to ensure preventative measures are the number 1 priority.
In outdoor education, we usually run our programs a considerable distance from emergency medical care. As a result, this adds an additional layer of risk to any trip away. However, rather than worry about this and feel as though it’s too risky to take kids away; my focus has always been on effective preparation and management. This ensures that the chances for an anaphylactic reaction becomes so low, it’s not an is-sue.
If a student’s medical profile is flagged with an anaphylactic allergy, I’ll phone home and talk to mum and dad. What I need to know when I call is what are the specific triggers? Can they have foods which might contain traces of the allergen? When was the last re-action and what happened? Even though this information might be in the medicals; I prefer the first hand information from parents, so I can effectively brief my staff. I also want to know how well their son or daughter manages their allergy. Are they aware of what can happen? Are they aware of what foods they can and can’t have? This information is vital in helping provide teachers with the best management strategies in the field.
As an example, on one program, I had 247 students out in the field for a week long camp. 11 of the students had allergies which could result in an anaphylactic reaction. Based upon the information from the parents, and the fact some activities were hours away from emergency care; I carefully placed students with the highest needs in the closest proximity to emergency healthcare facilities. In one of the extreme cases, given the number of allergens that the student was affected by; I asked his mum to provide and pack the week’s food in an esky for her son and I provided a clean stove which was specifically for his personal use.
At the end of the day, it about clear channels of communication between parents, teachers and the child. All staff are trained in first aid and anaphylaxis treatment, effective preparation and prevention is far more important. For every activity we do, we go armed with a list of dietary requirements and only shop according to each individual excursion. We don’t plan meals months in advance to save time. It’s about providing the best meal options for each individual group. This way, we’re prepared and able to ensure we provide a safe environment for every child and a wonderful memorable experience away from school.
Article submitted by David Gregory of Xcursion
So you have found out that you have a food allergy or food intolerance. Where do you start?
Food allergy is a result of your body’s reaction to certain foods where it responds to certain items and food products as an irritant. It can happen with anyone, anytime throughout his or her life. Food Intolerance is a little different and is not life threatening. It is more of a chemical response but can cause similar symptoms; upset stomach, vomiting, rashes, pain etc. Food allergies are often genetic, whereas, food intolerances don’t and can affect anyone and at anytime. Children do tend to out-grow these reactions but there are chances that they would be stuck with it for their whole life ahead leading to adults. So if you or your children have been recently diagnosed with this life-changing revelation, here are some tips on how you can better manage.
Identifying the problem
If you think that your child has an allergy, you re-ally need to go to an allergy specialist to identify the food groups that are triggering the responses. An IgE blood test measures the blood level of antibodies which are proteins produced by the immune system that attack antigens, such as bacteria, viruses and allergens. There is also a skin prick test that is also very effective. These tests will identify the food groups such as dairy, wheat, soy, etc and environmental allergens such as grass seed, dust etc. There are more options if you think you have a food intolerance. You can do a standard food elimination test, there are many professionals who are advertising food testing and you can also take out a Food Test 500 developed by a naturopath as a bio compatibility test, which identifies which whole foods are no good to each individual tested and is also highly effective, requires no appointment, needles, blood tests etc.
Introduce alternate recipes
Once you identify the foods that are triggering your symptoms you then need to effectively avoid them in order for you system to heal and your symptoms to reduce. Now, it doesn’t end here. You will have to dig deeper to find out all the other processed, packaged food which might contain traces of the allergic food in them. So, start reading labels. For example if you are allergic to wheat or gluten you are best to look for foods that are labeled gluten free as these companies have had to test for traces of gluten. Ingredients such as maltodextrins, thickener etc can be derived from wheat. Try not to use anything that you are not too sure about. Know what you can and can’t eat so that you can prevent any im-pending danger in your life. There are many re-sources available to give you ideas on how to substitute and cook gluten free, dairy free, soy free and more.
Check out the recipe archives of What Can I Eat.
Stick together as a family
If someone has an allergy, it is already hard enough for them. Try not to make it harder by making them feel left out and deprived. The food that they are allergic to, the whole family should stop using that. No food or craving can be worth a person’s life. Be prepared if you are going out to dinner or on holidays, school excursions etc. You are sometimes better to just bring your own food.
In the case of children being diagnosed with allergies and food intolerances, provide caretakers and educators such as nannies, baby sitters, teachers, grandparents and every elderly person your child may get in contact with a full list of inflammatory foods not to give them. In the same way for an adult also, it is important to be very conscious about trying anything new. Read the labels and ingredients very carefully before you try out some new food. Most importantly, keep an allergy kit with you all the time that can be used in case of a reaction.
Join support groups
To help you out and cope with all the strict, stressful decisions you are taking in your life, join support groups. You can talk to other people there who are going through something similar; find emotional support when you are down and helpful tips that can make your life easier.
Being diagnosed with food allergy or food intolerance can certainly change a lot of things in your life but it is certainly not the end of it. There is a lot of support; advice and resources these days that will help you follow your new eating guide-lines successfully. It is much better than the suffering you have had to endure so date.
If you haven’t identified whether you have a food intolerance jump over and grab a copy of our Food Intolerance Questionaire.