Food Allergies in Florida’s Schools
Food allergy gets defined as the unusual or abnormal immune reaction to nourishment. An allergic reaction has numerous signs that may vary from insignificant to grave symptoms and can entail itchiness, breathing complications, vomiting, and body rashes among others. The indications frequently reveal themselves within a specified time frame after exposure. In the cases where the signs are life threatening, the condition gets referred to as anaphylaxis. Food allergies in children represent a common occurrence that requires immediate attention. The following essay analyzes food allergy in Florida’s schools in details. The paper describes the causes and effects of food allergies in the institutions under consideration, symptoms, treatment, and the obstacles faced in the process of managing the reaction and the ways to fight them. Moreover, the work considers the role of school management and administration regarding countering the condition in Florida’s schools.
Keywords: allergy, causes, symptoms, obstacles, condition
Food Allergies in Florida’s Schools
Food allergies in youngsters have intensified over the periods of 1997 and 2007 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013). Most of the conditions have taken place in an institution of learning, and several children have experienced the one at some time in their life. According to the organization Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) (2014), most students are diagnosed with the allergy. Susceptible sensitive youngsters are at a risk of death if exposed since deadly symptoms can develop as the disease progresses. In Florida, there is a significantly high number of learners suffering from the reported diet allergies, and hence, there is a need to ensure their wellbeing in the schools.
Causes and Effects
In Florida, school youngsters are the most prone to food allergy since they are unable to recognize products that have the harmful substances. Moreover, children are at increased danger because of fun activities and constant contact with their friends and peers. The exposure to harmful products may occur during events like celebrations held at the places where a group of children is present (Jackson, 2013).
In Florida’s institutions, the causative factors can be traced anywhere in the school setting with the main danger areas being the canteen and the teaching spaces. The primary reasons of allergies are proteins in peanuts, eggs, shellfish, and tree nuts; however, any diet can instigate a sensitive reaction (Canani, Mara, & Riccardo, 2011). As a result, peanut butter application on snacks in schools is now unwelcome (Matthew, 2016). In addition, the meals that include genetically modified ingredients are also among those that typically contribute to allergic reactions in Florida.
Accurate diagnosis of diet allergy is important to avoid the hazardous food and follow the healthy diet since it prevents the needless elimination of safe products (Edward, Adam, & Roisin, 2011, p. 19). When an individual has a food allergy, their protective mechanism mistakenly recognizes a definite ingredient or a flavor like something detrimental. The system instantaneously activates cells to discharge antibodies to counteract the allergen. The aftermath of the process is manifested in allergic responses like running nose, rashes, and vomiting among others. Medical signs of diet allergy get caused by mediators like histamine that alter body nerves resulting in muscle seizures, significant swelling, and mucous discharge. Moreover, the allergic reaction can trigger asthma attacks or result in anaphylaxis. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, anaphylaxis represents a deadly, severe allergic reaction usually being to food (Gupta, 2014). Unfortunately, in Florida, both the anaphylaxis occurrences and other allergic reactions are on the rise (Gupta, 2014). The factor has led to an increased initiative in countering the condition.
Symptoms and Treatment
Allergic indications usually commence within few hours after consuming any meal that contains dangerous substances. However, on rare occasions, the signs appear immediately after food consumption. The main established symptoms observed in learners in Florida entail abdominal ache, problems in swallowing, diarrhea, itching of the mouth, throat, skin and other areas, and nausea. Furthermore, the reported cases show that most students with allergic reactions have running nose, swellings of body organs, strained breathing, stomach upset, and vomiting. The measuring of blood pressure and conducting skin tests help to identify and prove the presence of allergy.
According to Pulcini, Marshall and Naveed (2011), giving epinephrine in case of anaphylaxis on time is essential. Studies are still underway to define whether early introduction of causative diets may aver allergy development (Elissa & Allan, 2015). Undoubtedly, avoiding foods that have high chances of causing the condition also comes as a preventive measure.
Obstacles Faced in the Process of Fighting the Food Allergies
In Florida’s schools, there are various challenges faced by the administration and the relevant players in countering allergic reactions in the institutions. Firstly, shortage of qualified medical practitioners affects the schools in the area. Normally, the nurses who are accessible are at times on part-time employment and, on many occasions, not fully conversant with evidence-based practices in handling such situations.
To continue, it has been earlier, cases of allergic reactions have been upsurging over the years. However, despite the danger posed by the condition, the schools in Florida face a deficit of epinephrine which is used to fight the strains of anaphylaxis. The factor has resulted in children not getting the right treatment at the appropriate time that has in some cases led to the death of the affected kids.
Furthermore, in Florida’s institutions, there exists a challenge of ignorance regarding the handling of allergic conditions. The factor is facilitated by the fact that school personnel and parents have no clue to how to cope with and prevent cases of diet reactions in children. Due to unawareness, parents and school staff fail to protect the innocent students who simply cannot differentiate the triggers of a reaction that threatens their existence. Thus, lack of proper guidelines and responsive policies are to be blamed for being the obstacle.
In various cases, a student may fail to show up for school for a day or more, and this poses another serious challenge. In many circumstances, after interacting with a child for a significant length of time, a teacher can recognize the medical condition of the pupil. In such situations, there are instructions set for the handling the problem, and, as a result, the food allergic reactions are kept in check. However, if such a student misses classes or fails to attend school, chances of jeopardizing their stable health condition are high since they may be exposed to allergens and lack the right medication. The fact serves as another piece of evidence of the significantly high ignorance levels among most parents and guardians.
In addition, money problems play a significant role in the hindrance of practical food allergy containment. Poor financial status of many families has resulted in them consuming products that are potential triggers of allergic reactions. Some of them may include genetically modified edibles that are easily obtainable in grocery stores. Obviously, parents and guardians with such a problem are also unable to afford epinephrine medication, and this leaves room for possible severe implications.
One should also mention that children in Florida’s schools have a habit of sharing food. This happens as a part of their process of development and interaction but it is also a challenge when dealing with the problem of food allergies. Clearly, the meals may contain allergens that the children may consume and, later, experience complications. As long as pupils continue sharing food, cases of allergic reactions will always be on the rise, and, hence, there will be a need to seek for effective measures.
Finally, most times, it is hard to recognize whether a food reaction is an allergy or food intolerance. The factor has led to children developing severe complications before they are correctly diagnosed and treated.
Solutions to Obstacles
There are several courses of action one can follow to solve the issue of food allergies and deal with the obstacles in the process. The shortage of medical practitioners in schools can be solved by hiring full-time nurses and also working with various volunteers. Children should also be taught about the identification of harmful foods that might trigger the condition. Teaching the students about allergic sensitivities is essential and develops with time; moreover, with age and maturation, the pupils get an intrinsic drive to learn (Smith, 2014). Consequently, children themselves can play significant roles in handling the challenges. Furthermore, parents and custodians should be instructed on the preventive measures regarding allergic reactions and recognizing allergens. Besides, schools should have an adequate supply of epinephrine to cater for emergencies. Lastly, children should be cautioned against sharing food, and all diets consumed should be checked for causative elements of food reactions.
The Role of School Management in Fighting Food Allergies
The school management should be in a position to offer the right measures that will result in the awareness regarding the problem and provide the necessary knowledge to school personnel to aid them in learning about diet allergies and handling of the related cases. They should also ensure that the significance of health and wellbeing of the learners in the Florida’s schools is mirrored in the institutions’ missions. The school administration has the role of adopting and implementing policies that are useful while dealing with the allergic cases and students suffering from condition. Familiarizing school’s personnel with the adopted policy strategies helps to augment their awareness about the diet reactions thereby accumulating confidence levels when handling the cases. Moreover, according to Cavanaugh and Strickland (2011), school administrators should design a cohesive anaphylaxis awareness program for the institution’s medical practitioners that will include avoidance measures, signs identification, and administration of epinephrine and application of the emergency healthcare strategy. Shah, Parker and Davis claim that school staff possesses the drive to improve their awareness on matters related to diet reactions (2013). The management, therefore, has the role of facilitating such training to ensure success.
In conclusion, diet reactions are a common occurrence in Florida’s institutions that, in some cases, lead to the death due to severe complications. The main causes of the condition are allergens present in various foods which are readily available. The symptoms of allergic reactions have been identified to range from nausea, stomach upsets, diarrhea, skin rashes, to swellings among others. However, the reaction can be treated through the application of epinephrine and avoidance of diets that pose high risks of the condition. While dealing with the allergies, several obstacles are encountered such as a shortage of nurses, lack of proper education, eating together, and financial constraints. The school management has a role of adopting effective policies that aid in the handling of diet reactions.