Thursday, February 27, 2014

Student Health and Wellness

Are you interested in collaborating with a dedicated group of individuals from our schools and community to assure the physical and emotional health of our students? If so, we welcome you to attend a Palo Alto Unified School District Health Council meeting.  The Health Council is comprised of school and community advocates engaged in a common focus of promoting learners who are emotionally and physically healthy. To learn more about the Health Council please visit

For questions, please contact Brenda Carrillo, Student Services Coordinator at or (650) 329-3769.  
Given the Health Council’s focus on promoting health, please enjoy the following article, which the nursing staff has written for parents and staff:
Allergies and Anaphylaxis Awareness
What are Allergies?
Allergies occur when the immune system produces antibodies against substances in the environment called allergens that are usually harmless. Once an allergy has developed, exposure to the particular allergen can result in symptoms that vary from mild to life threatening.
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe, rapidly progressive allergic reaction that is potentially life threatening. Although allergic reactions in children are common, severe life-threatening reactions are uncommon and deaths are rare.
What are the Main Causes?
Food allergies are the most common triggers for an anaphylactic reaction, but there are other triggers as well.  
Common Food Triggers:  Peanuts, Tree nuts, Eggs, Cow’s Milk, Wheat, Soybean, Fish and Shellfish
Other Triggers:  Insect stings, particularly bee stings, Medications, Latex
Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Reaction:
Severe Allergic Reaction (Anaphylaxis)
  • LUNG: Short of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough
  • HEART: Pale, blue, faint, weak pulse, dizzy
  • THROAT: Tight, hoarse, trouble breathing/swallowing
  • MOUTH: Significant swelling of the tongue and/or lips
  • SKIN:   Many hives over body, widespread redness
  • GUT:   Repetitive vomiting or severe diarrhea
  • COMBO:   Combination of mild or severe symptoms from different body areas
Mild to Moderate Allergic Reaction:
  • NOSE: Itchy/runny, sneezing
  • MOUTH: Itchy mouth
  • SKIN:   A few hives, mild itch
  • GUT:   Mild nausea/discomfort

How is Anaphylaxis Treated?
Adrenaline given as an injection into the muscle of the outer mid-thigh is the most effective first aid treatment. Children at risk are advised by their doctor to carry adrenaline in an auto-injector like the EpiPen, for administration in an emergency. Parents should provide schools with 2 EpiPens and a doctor signed Allergy Action Plan, which are kept in an accessible, unlocked location. If a student is treated with EpiPen for anaphylaxis, an ambulance must be called to take the student to a hospital immediately. If mild symptoms occur, a student can be treated with antihistamines, if ordered by their doctor.  Such a student must be watched closely for any changes and if symptoms worsen, adrenaline (EpiPen) may need to be administered.  
How can Anaphylaxis be prevented at School? 
Knowledge of those students at risk, awareness of triggers (allergens) and prevention of exposure to triggers can help prevent anaphylaxis at school. The most important aspect of care is to avoid any known triggers.  Schools can work with parents and students to ensure that certain foods or items are kept away from the student to prevent exposure to known triggers.  Solutions such as “nut free” lunch tables should be considered. 
  1. School staff must be informed of the diagnosis and its cause
  2. Parents must provide a copy of the Allergy Action Plan signed by the doctor
  3. Parents must provide 2 EpiPens – check expiration date
  4. Parents must provide Antihistamine medications, if prescribed

Our nursing staff will work with parents and teachers to provide for the safety of our students.  Please visit the PAUSD Health and Wellness page for forms and more information:

For questions, please contact District Nurse Linda Lenoir, R.N. MSN, at or (650) 329-3766

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