What is Anaphylaxis?
106. Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction requiring urgent medical treatment. When such severe allergies are diagnosed, the children concerned are made aware from a very early age of what they can and cannot eat and drink and, in the majority of cases, they go through the whole of their school lives without incident. The most common cause is food - in particular nuts, fish, dairy products. Wasp and bee stings can also cause allergic reaction. In its most severe form the condition can be life-threatening, but it can be treated with medication. This may include antihistamine, adrenaline inhaler or adrenaline injection, depending on the severity of the reaction.
Medication and Control
107. In the most severe cases of anaphylaxis, people are normally prescribed a device for injecting adrenaline (Epipen). The device looks like a fountain pen and is pre-loaded with the correct dose of adrenaline and is normally injected into the fleshy part of the thigh. The needle is not revealed and the injection is easy to administer. It is not possible to give too large a dose using this device. In cases of doubt it is better to give the injection than to hold back. Responsibility for giving the injection should be on a purely voluntary basis and should not, in any case, be undertaken without training from an appropriate health professional. Where a child is prescribed an Epipen, schools should contact the School Health Co-ordinator or the school doctor for advice on the protocols for care.
108. For some children, the timing of the injection may be crucial. This needs to be clear in the IPP and suitable procedures put in place so that swift action can be taken in an emergency Appendix D.
109. The pupil may be old enough to carry his or her own medication but, if not, a suitable safe yet accessible place for storage should be found. The safety of other pupils should also be taken into account. If a pupil is likely to suffer a severe allergic reaction all staff should be aware of the condition and know who is responsible for administering the emergency treatment.
110. Parents will often ask for the school to ensure that their child does not come into contact with the allergen. This is not always feasible, although schools should bear in mind the risk to such pupils at break and lunch times and in cookery, food technology and science classes and seek to minimise the risks whenever possible. It may also be necessary to take precautionary measures on outdoor activities or school trips.
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