SRxA’s Word on Health was deeply saddened to hear of the seven-year-old girl from Chesterfield County, Virginia who died this week after suffering an allergic reaction at school. According to news reports she was given a peanut from another child who was unaware of her allergy.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and friends. We dedicate this blog as a tribute to her and all the other children who have lost their lives to anaphylaxis.
Although there’s no cure for food allergies, as we’ve reported in the past, such deaths are almost entirely preventable with proper education and immediate treatment with epinephrine. And even though we don’t know all the details of this case, what we do know is that food allergies are on the rise. 8% of children under age 18 in the United States have at least one food allergy.
Now, we’d like your help to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s Be S.A.F.E. campaign is dedicated to educating patients and healthcare professionals on the steps needed to save lives. We urge you to read the campain’s action guide and share it with your colleagues, friends, and relatives. If you have kids in school, make sure the teachers are aware of it. If you use a gym, make sure the trainers know. Tell your favorite restaurant, share with your employer…the list goes on and on.
Seek immediate medical help. Call 911 and get to the nearest emergency facility at the first sign of anaphylaxis, even if you have already administered epinephrine.
Identify the Allergen. Think about what you might have eaten or come in contact with – food, insect sting, medication, latex – to trigger an allergic reaction. It is particularly important to identify the cause because the best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to avoid its trigger.
Follow up with a Specialist. Ask your doctor for a referral to an allergist/immunologist, a physician who specializes in treating asthma and allergies. It is important that you consult an allergist for testing, diagnosis and ongoing management of your allergic disease.
Carry Epinephrine for emergencies. If you are at risk for anaphylaxis, make sure that you carry an epinephrine kit with you at all times, and that family and friends know of your condition, your triggers and how to use epinephrine. Consider wearing an emergency medical bracelet or necklace identifying yourself as a person at risk of anaphylaxis. Teachers and other caregivers should be informed of children who are at risk for anaphylaxis and know what to do in an allergic emergency.
So there you have it. 4 simple steps that could save lives. Go share them!