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Life-Threatening Allergies

Where life-threatening allergies are concerned, there is no substitute for being informed

The incidence of severe allergic reactions has been rising at an alarming rate, especially food allergies, and research suggests that the prevalence has yet to peak. If the allergic reaction becomes severe it is then known as anaphylaxis, a life-threatening event.

Food allergies are the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside of the hospital setting. Other common causes of anaphylaxis include allergies to latex, medications and insect bites.

It is important for school district employees to be prepared to provide care and an emergency response. If you are a substitute teacher, this includes you!


Some of the most dangerous symptoms of anaphylaxis include breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure, or shock, which are potentially fatal. Common signs and symptoms include:

arrow bulletCoughing, wheezing, throat tightening, difficulty breathing.

arrow bulletHives, itching, swelling.

arrow bulletStomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea.

arrow bulletDizziness, fainting or loss of consciousness.

arrow bulletRed, watery eyes, runny nose.

arrow bulletChange of voice, change of skin color.

arrow bulletSense of doom.

What do I need to know?

As a substitute teacher you should find out if your schools have protocols for:

arrow bulletDealing with anaphylactic episodes.

arrow bulletAvoidance of allergen exposure, and cross contamination.

arrow bulletSpecial accommodations like an Emergency Care Plan (ECP) for individual students in your class who have known severe allergies.

Where can I find this information?

Your best resources for this district specific information are the:

arrow bulletSchool nurse

arrow bulletMain office

arrow bulletDistrict office

arrow bulletDistrict Web site (for contact information)

Most of the above information was taken from:

Making a Difference, Caring for Students with Life threatening Allergies (NYSDOH/NYSED, June 2008).

Read the complete document (PDF)


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