Back To School with Allergies and Asthma

From the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology


Hi, I’m Bobby. Before I start school, I visit my allergist/immunologist for a complete exam. He prescribes the medications I need to avoid asthma and allergy attacks all year long and explains how I can manage my symptoms. At school, I tell my teacher what I need in case of an attack.

Pet dander
Recent studies show that pet dander can be transported on clothing. This puts allergic students at risk for an allergy or asthma attack. Do not borrow your friends’ coats if they have pets and you have pet allergies.


Lunch box
The most common food allergens are the proteins in cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts. If you have a food allergy, make sure to tell your teacher or other school staff. Make sure they have your emergency plan. If you are food allergic, be sure to never eat any of your friends’ lunch foods or snacks.

Open windows
On high pollen days, open windows allow pollen and other airborne allergens to drift into the classroom. Ask your teachers to keep windows closed to prevent pollens and mold spores from coming indoors. An air conditioner can help to cool and clean the air.


Indoor molds are found in dark, warm, humid places such as basements, bathrooms, or near leaky pipes. Mold spores can trigger allergy or asthma attacks. Fortunately, indoor molds and mildew can be easily eliminated with a detergent cleaning solution once you discover them. Make sure your school repairs and seals any leaking roofs or pipes.


Asthma Action Plan
If you have asthma, it’s important that you have an asthma management plan on file at your school. This will help your teacher know which medications you use to prevent an asthma attack and how to use them. It also explains the warning signs of an asthma attack and how to treat an asthma episode. That way if you have an attack at school, your teacher will know how to help you.


Classroom pets
Proteins found in the saliva, dander (dead skin flakes) or urine of furry animals can trigger allergy symptoms such as sneezing, an itchy, runny nose, and itchy, swollen eyes. Itchy skin or a raised, red rash called hives can also come from touching animals, so try to avoid contact, if you are allergic. Make sure your teacher is aware that you have an allergy to animal dander. To lessen your allergy symptoms, your teacher may remove pets (guinea pigs, gerbils and mice) from the classroom. Turtles, hermit crabs, fish, snakes or any animal that does not have hair and dander make for less allergenic classroom pets.


Classroom treats
Birthdays and holidays mean special food treats. If you have a food allergy, be sure to avoid any hidden foods, such as eggs and nuts, that could trigger a food allergic reaction. Keep a supply of allergy-free treats at school for unexpected celebrations. Ask about ingredients for any new foods.


Carpets harbor dust mites, which can trigger allergies. If you want to curl up and read a book, sit at your desk, not on the carpet. Hardwood, tile or linoleum is better for people with allergies.


Make sure your teachers know you have asthma and that they know what to do in case you have an attack. Take your inhaler or Epi-pen to school with you every day, or give them to the school nurse.


Chalk dust is an irritant that can trigger an asthma attack. Try to stay away from the chalkboard and erasers and wash your hands after writing on the board.



American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
555 East Wells Street
11th Floor
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202-3823

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