(BPT) - Pop quiz! Do you know what a peanut butter sandwich in the cafeteria, a latex glove in the science lab and a bumblebee on the playground all have in common? For some students, an encounter with any of these items could cause a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Anaphylaxis has many possible triggers, can occur quickly, without warning, and must be treated immediately with epinephrine. Avoidance of allergic triggers is the critical first step in managing life-threatening allergies. However, allergens are not always obvious and accidental exposure may still happen.
In an effort to increase awareness of and preparedness for anaphylaxis, Emmy-award winning actress Julie Bowen, known for her comedic role in "Modern Family," has joined Mylan Specialty L.P. on the Get Schooled in Anaphylaxis(TM) initiative. Get Schooled in Anaphylaxis offers practical information to educate the school community to help those at risk for life-threatening allergic reactions avoid their triggers, recognize anaphylaxis signs and symptoms and understand how to quickly get appropriate treatment and immediate medical care when anaphylaxis occurs. Julie, who found out that her son had life-threatening allergies when he experienced anaphylaxis as a toddler, is sharing her family's experience to help drive a national conversation on this serious health issue. Fortunately, Julie's son received immediate medical care and recovered quickly.
"I know first-hand that anaphylaxis can happen anywhere and at any time, and that people often aren't ready to respond," said Bowen. "My son's reaction was a wake-up call that our family and those who take care of our son when he is in school, need to become more educated about life-threatening allergic reactions, how to best avoid them from happening and what to do in case an accidental exposure occurs."
Children and adolescents are among those most at-risk for anaphylaxis due to increased exposure to potential allergic triggers. In fact, the prevalence of food allergies among children is on the rise, now affecting approximately one in 13 U.S. children. Anaphylaxis causes an estimated 1,500 deaths each year.
The good news: Julie is excited that Get Schooled in Anaphylaxis offers a comprehensive, community-inspired online resource on www.Anaphylaxis101.com to meet the information needs of the extended community impacted by potentially life-threatening allergies. The website includes a personalized, virtual tour and access to an extensive library of resources from leading patient, professional, and advocacy groups. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, school nurses and other community members can access information specific to their needs and learn how they can contribute to raising anaphylaxis awareness and preparedness. By logging on to www.Anaphylaxis101.com, visitors have the option to enter a virtual experience or find useful resources and materials tailored to the individual role in the school community and where they live.
"Similar to recognizing when someone needs the Heimlich maneuver or CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), we want people to recognize anaphylaxis signs and symptoms, and understand how to quickly get appropriate treatment and immediate medical care when anaphylaxis occurs," said Hemant Sharma, M.D., Associate Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "Every person responsible for the health of children in schools should be aware of and prepared for a life-threatening allergic reaction. I encourage everyone to visit www.Anaphylaxis101.com to learn more about anaphylaxis and get information to help them be prepared to respond if it happens."
How to help raise awareness and be prepared if anaphylaxis occurs
- Be aware: Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that has many possible triggers, can occur quickly and without warning, and must be treated immediately with epinephrine.
- Know the facts: Children and adolescents are among those most at risk for anaphylaxis due to increased exposure to potential allergic triggers. In fact, the prevalence of food allergies among children is on the rise, now affecting approximately one in 13 U.S. children. Anaphylaxis causes an estimated 1,500 deaths each year.
- Be prepared:
- Identify and avoid allergic triggers
- Know the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. These may include trouble breathing, chest pain, skin hives or redness of the skin, tightness in the throat, swelling of the lips and/or tongue, nausea, dizziness, a decrease in blood pressure, and/or fainting. Anaphylaxis symptoms may progress rapidly and become life-threatening, requiring prompt recognition and treatment initiation.
- Understand how to quickly get appropriate treatment and immediate medical care when anaphylaxis occurs
- Learn more: Visit www.Anaphylaxis101.com and follow the Twitter handle @Anaphylaxis101 to get the latest news about the initiative.