It's scary to think of your child having an allergy attack. The best thing you can do for your child during a serious allergic reaction is take quick action. To help you do that, it's smart to occasionally review the instructions your doctor gave you and run through the steps you would take in an allergy emergency.
Here's a checklist parents of a seriously allergic child can use to prepare for allergy emergencies:
- Know the signs of a serious reaction, such as difficulty breathing and wheezing. Depending on the type of allergy your child has, the signs, symptoms and instructions for treatment may differ. Make sure you, your child and your child's caretakers understand the information and know how to follow the instructions from your doctor.
Tip: Create a card with your child's allergy type(s), symptoms to look for, steps for treatment and numbers to call. Put the card in your child's backpack and distribute copies to teachers, coaches and other caretakers.
- Make sure the epinephrine injector or medication your child is prescribed is always with them. If your child is too young to manage the medication or injector, make sure it stays with an adult who is in charge of your child at school, birthday parties, on vacation — everywhere.
Tip: For kids in school, work with the school officials to decide where the injector will be stored and how your child will get it quickly when he/she needs it.
- Regularly practice how to use the epinephrine injector, so you don't forget. Are there caps to remove? Which end rests on the skin? Where on the body is the injection site? How do you hold the syringe and release the medicine? Visit the manufacturer's website to get detailed instructions for your child, not for adults. Manufacturers may also supply a trainer syringe that is not loaded with epinephrine, so you can practice all the steps safely. If your child is in charge of carrying the injector, make sure he or she practices, too.
Tip: Ask for a demonstration at your doctor's office.
- If a serious allergic reaction happens, your child needs medication or the epinephrine injector right away – administer it and then call 911. Follow the 911 operator's instructions and wait for an ambulance or get to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Remember, your child may have a second wave of symptoms that requires further treatment. You should take the used epinephrine syringe to the hospital with you.
Tip: If you are not alone, designate someone to call 911 while you are giving the injection.
- Be aware of the expiration dates and storage instructions on all medications and injectors. Particularly critical for epinephrine injectors, store the injector according to the manufacturer's directions and pay attention to specific temperature ranges for storage.
Tip: Add a reminder to your calendar to keep track of when you will need new medication or an injector. Don't wait until after the expiration date – make the appointment for two weeks before in case you have to go back to the doctor for a refill.
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