In middle or high school? Chances are you enjoy being with friends and love to try new things.
This is normal behavior, but never let friends or having fun put you at risk for anaphylaxis.
If you have a food allergy, sometimes you will need to act more mature than your years to prevent a reaction.
12 Tips For Avoiding Reactions At School
- Let all your friends know about the allergy and how they can help you stay safe. Anyone who is your friend will want to know this. Friends should also know the signs of anaphylaxis and how to handle an emergency. Teach them how to use an auto-injector. Anyone who is not supportive is not a friend.
- ALWAYS wash your hands before and after eating – using soap and water is best. Carry hand wipes in your backpack or purse to use when soap and water are not available. Since your friends know about the allergy, they will understand.
- Have your medications and auto-injectors with you at ALL times. If you do not have auto-injectors with you, DO NOT EAT.
- Wear a medical identification bracelet. Even if it clashes with your clothes, it may save your life.
- Promise yourself to NEVER share food, straws, eating utensils or containers with anyone. Do not share cigarettes either. Better yet, decide to never smoke one.
- Promise yourself to never place food directly on a table or desk. Put the food on a napkin or tissue and consider carrying some in your bag.
- Remind yourself not to put the end of pencils, pens, or markers in your mouth, especially if others use them.
- Think about this. If you decide to drink alcohol or smoke pot, you will be less likely to protect yourself from an allergy reaction and less able to respond in an emergency. Your buzzed friends may not be able to help you either.
- If you haven’t already, learn to read and understand food labels. Know the different names for your specific allergen and how to check for possible cross-contamination. ALWAYS read a product’s label before taking the first bite. When in doubt, toss the item out.
- If you have had your allergy for awhile, you likely heard your parents ask about food preparation at restaurants or other people’s homes. Now, you will need to do this for yourself. Know ahead of time what questions to ask. If it will help, practice what to say with your parents or a friend.
- The best place for you to try new foods is at home – not at school or out with friends. If you eat at a friend’s house, the parents should be informed of your allergy and what to do in an emergency.
- All your teachers should know the signs of anaphylaxis and how to respond in an emergency. Feel free to ask them if they are prepared, or to talk with them about your food allergy.
If you run into bullying, whether about your allergy or something else, check out websites such as www.stopbullying.gov. Talk to your parents, a trusted teacher, a school counselor or administrator. Don’t go it alone.
Source: AAIA Photo credit: Paul-W / flickr creative commons