Back-To-School Asthma and Anaphylaxis Basics

School children with asthma and food or venom allergy face uncertainty and challenges not experienced by most classmates. The average classroom, lunch room, playground, class party and athletic field is filled with allergens capable of provoking asthma or allergy symptoms that students with these conditions must prevent and treat with vigilance and balance.

“It’s not possible nor necessary to put children in a bubble,” says Nancy Sander, President and Founder of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA). “But it is necessary to take reasonable precautions to reduce risk, recognize when accidental exposures have occurred and treat them immediately with the right medications.”

“We encourage all parents to make sure their child’s emergency care plans are completed on time and accurately,” says Dr. Sanjay Khiani in Charlotte, NC. “They should be given to school nurses or administrators before the school year begins.”

Stephen Conley, PhD, Former Executive Director of the American School Health Association, adds, “Student health plans and school policy should be based on medical evidence and the individual needs of each student. School nurses and administrators must receive annual or twice yearly training to make sure they know how to handle asthma and anaphylaxis emergencies before they happen.”

AANMA offers these tips for families as children head back to school this fall:

Back-to-school ABCs

  • Anaphylaxis or Asthma Action Plan: Spells out what symptoms to watch for, how to treat them and when to call for help. Make copies for school and backpack.

  • Backpack medications include a bronchodilator (albuterol or levalbuterol) inhaler for asthma and two epinephrine auto-injectors for anaphylaxis: Up-to-date supplies of these life-saving medications for backpack and school clinic.

  • Completed and signed school health forms: Include emergency contact info and permission to carry and self-administer asthma or anaphylaxis medication. Epinephrine, not antihistamines, is always the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis.

Extra Credit:

  • Develop students’ self-confidence by helping them understand what sets off their symptoms and how best to protect themselves, and ask for help.

  • Emergency training for school staff, bus drivers and after-school day care: Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) Teams across the country bring FREE presentations to schools or community groups. Visit to find out about this award-winning program, a joint project of AANMA and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P.

  • Find out more with the fall back-to-school issue of Allergy & Asthma Today – AANMA’s quarterly magazine, free to all AANMA members. Call 800-878-4403 to join today!


Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) is the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. AANMA specializes in sharing family-friendly, medically accurate information through its award-winning publicationsAllergy & Asthma Today magazine and The MA Report newsletter, its web site at and numerous community outreach programs. Follow AANMA on Facebook at and on Twitter at

About ACE Team

Contact Dr. Sanjay Khiani at 704-817-2022. His specialty and passion is patient and community education on asthma and allergic disorders. You will feel more confident in your abilities to recognize and treat severe allergic reactions.