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NAN: Allergic Reactions

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According to, an allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that’s harmless to most people. But in someone with an allergy, the body’s immune system treats the substance, called an allergen, as an invader and reacts inappropriately, resulting in symptoms that can be anywhere from annoying to life threatening.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology classifies allergies in different forms. These include food allergy, skin allergy, dust allergy, insect sting allergy, pet allergies, eye allergy, drug allergies, allergic rhinitis, latex allergy, mold allergy and cockroach allergy. Allergic reactions can range in severity from rashes to trouble breathing and all reactions to an allergen may not be the same. 

In rare cases a child may experience a severe and life threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology defines this as when an over release of chemicals puts the body into shock. Symptoms can include and are not limited to trouble breathing, hives, swelling, tightness of the throat, a hoarse voice, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting, low blood pressure, rapid heart beat and cardiac arrest. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergies to food, medications, insect stings and latex are most associated with anaphylaxis. 

Nannies should call call 911 if they suspect a child is experiencing anaphylaxis, even if epinephrine has been administered.

If a child in your care has been diagnosed with allergies, strive to avoid known triggers to help prevent an allergic reaction. Nannies caring for children with allergies should be familiar with the child’s allergy action plan and treat the child as directed according to that plan.

Nannies should also ensure that they are familiar with the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. If a child has an allergy that requires an auto injector, like an Epipen, the nanny should be trained in how to use it and ensure that she always has it with her and the child. Nannies can also work with parents to encourage the use of a medical alert bracelet for the child. 

Since part of being a nanny can involve taking the child to playdates and outings, nannies caring for children with allergies must be able to clearly articulate the child’s allergy and what steps need to be taken to help create a safe environment for the child. Likewise, since many children have allergies, when hosting a playdate a nanny should inquire as to if the children in attendance have any allergies that require special consideration. 

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Allergic Reactions