Adrenaline auto-injector are only a part of good allergy management. Accurate diagnosis and a clear plan as how to prevent reactions occurring and effectively treat them if they do occur are most important. The Children’s Allergy Network will work with you and your child to make sure they have the very best treatment.
GET THE DIAGNOSIS RIGHT This is the number ONE priority. Over half of children with food or drug allergies don’t have an allergy!
Children should not avoid foods or medicine unnecessarily, which lead to unnecessary restrictions on their diet and lifestyle and adverse effects on their growth and general well being. Although allergy testing can be useful, requesting allergy tests where there is no clear history is the surest way of making a wrong diagnosis.
GET THE ASTHMA UNDER CONTROL Badly controlled asthma increases the risk of breathing problems (anaphylaxis) after an allergic reaction. Making sure that the child’s asthma, eczema and hay fever are controlled, is just as important as managing the acute allergy.
NOT ALL ALLERGIES ARE LIFE-LONG Many children with food allergies will outgrow the problem, particularly to cow’s milk, egg, wheat, soya or lentil. These allergies often get better with time, usually before school age.
AVOIDANCE IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY, particularly for cow’s milk and egg allergy. 3 out of 4 children with milk and egg allergies tolerate it when baked in biscuits and cakes. If they do, eating baked food at least 3 times a week can half the time it takes to outgrow the problem. Children should not avoid foods in a form they tolerate. See your doctor for further advice and guidance.
REGULARLY REVIEW THE DIAGNOSIS AND MANAGEMENT PLAN Even if your child previously had an allergy it is important that they are reviewed to make sure the diagnosis and management plan is still up to date.
For some children this may mean 6 – 12 monthly appointments, for others when they enter or change schools, or are about to transition to the adult services.
KNOW WHAT TO DO IF A REACTION OCCURS If the child develops breathing problems or feels faint give the adrenaline auto-injector if available. Just as importantly, call an ambulance to take the child to hospital immediately for review. Adrenaline may buy time, but medical review is essential to ensure the reaction is settling. If there are no breathing problems or faintness a dose of an antihistamine is usually sufficient. Except in children under 1 year of age, use a long acting antihistamine e.g. loratadine or cetirizine rather than Piriton.