PostHeaderIcon One Of My Pupils Has Anaphylaxis: How Can I Help?

ASEHA Leaflet Series - Food Allergy and other Food Disorders

One Of My Pupils Has Anaphylaxis.. How Can I Help

What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is the severest form of allergy and is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Anaphylaxis has the potential to be fatal.

Common allergens are foods eg peanuts, legumes, fish, shellfish, milk & eggs and insect stings.

What should I know?

To manage anaphylaxis you should know:

• Which children are at risk
• How to recognise the symptoms of anaphylaxis
• What action should be taken in the event of an anaphylaxis emergency
• How to best support affected pupils and their parents
• School policy & protocols

Which children are at risk?

Make yourself familiar with the names and identifying photographs of all children at risk in your school.

Prompt recognition of any child with a severe reaction may save their life.

It is suggested Emergency Action Plans with identifying features are displayed in the staff room and school tuck shop.

How do I recognise the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a generalized whole body allergic reaction. Characteristically there are either respiratory and or cardiovascular signs:


• Difficulty/noisy breathing
• Wheeze or persistent cough [anaphylaxis often mimics asthma]
• Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
• Swelling of tongue/throat that poses an immediate risk of airway closure with inability to breathe.


• Loss of consciousness
• collapse
• pale & floppy [young children]
• loss of pulse

Other body systems may be involved such as

• the skin [which may develop hives or welts] or
• the gastrointestinal system [the child may have colicky abdominal pain or nausea and/or vomiting].

What action should I take in the event of an emergency?

Staff must follow their school protocols that should be negotiated with the pupil's parents.

Essentially in the event of anaphylaxis you must:
• Seek help and
• Administer adrenaline.

Action to be taken

• Administer Epipen Adrenaline Auto Injector
• Ring 000
• Request an intensive care Ambulance and state:
• The Child is anaphylactic and has had adrenaline injected
• Keep the child warm and calm & wait for an ambulance

Get someone to contact:
• The mother
• The father
• Significant Carer
• School Office Staff for support

What can I do to support my pupil and their parents?

These are just some suggestions:

Meet with parents and negotiate an emergency action plan.

Avoidance is the mainstay of anaphylaxis management. Allergen avoidance can be extremely demanding for both parents & affected children.

Assist with allergen avoidance.

• General information about the presence of food allergic children at school and their requirements can be included in school newsletters to broaden awareness & support.

• Bullying of children with identified allergies is not uncommon & should be recognised.

• Identify foods in the tuck shop that contain trigger substances e.g. nuts and replace with other nutritious foods. [NSW Health: Dept of Education & Training]
• Food sharing should be actively discouraged.

• Food based activities such as cooking; craft activities & class parties may need to be altered. Please consult with parents.

• Consider non-food rewards e.g. stickers, pencils

Further information


Heddle, RJ & Brown, SGA "Allergic Reactions To Insect Biters and Stings" Medicine Today Feb 2004, Vol 5, No.2.

Hu, W & Kemp, A. "Managing Childhood Food Allergies & Anaphylaxis" Australian Family Physician Vol.34 No1/2, January/February 2005

"Anaphylaxis: Guidelines for Schools Severe Allergic Reactions" NSW Health: Dept of Education & Training

Steele, R. "The Investigation of Anaphylaxis" Medicine Today Feb 2003 Vol 4 No. 2

Written by:
Skye Thomas, 3rd year Queensland University (QU) Medical Student for ASEHA Qld Inc under the Faculty of Health Science, The School of Medicine Discipline of General Practice, Community Attachment Program 2006.

PO Box 96 Margate Qld 4019

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Last Updated (Saturday, 14 November 2009 03:49)