High school

Work with your parents and teachers in rethinking your anaphylaxis management strategy to address your food allergies in a high school environment.

Teenage classmates standing in high school hallway
Group of teens giving a thumbs up to the camera

The transition from middle/junior high school to high school can seem like a big change. There are way more students, teachers and, logically, more food! There will likely be many new situations where you will face new risks and will need to take on more responsibility in staying safe.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Update your records

With your parents’ help, make sure to update your student file with the school every year, providing an updated Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan.

2. Lockers are for books, not needles

If experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction, would you be able to run to your locker, figure out the combination, find your auto-injector and then use it? It’s an unnecessary risk that’s just not worth taking when managing allergies in high school. Keep your auto-injector with you at all times at school.

3. Don’t face a reaction alone

If you do ever have an allergic reaction in your high school, let someone know immediately. It may be tempting to hide the fact out of embarrassment or not wanting to seem like a burden, but an allergic reaction is serious and you will not be viewed negatively because of it. Teachers and friends are there to help and can assist in many ways, from administering an auto-injector to calling emergency services.

4. Cleanliness is safeness

Food in the cafeteria, the halls, and maybe even in the classroom can pose potential risks. Protect yourself by washing your hands before meals and making sure your eating surface area is clean. Be aware that risky food may be at school events such as dances, banquets or handed out at special events. Also, take proper precautions if sharing an instrument in band class.

5. Look into your school’s anaphylaxis policy

Does your high school have an anaphylaxis policy? Are teachers trained on how to use an auto-injector? Find out, and don’t be shy about giving your principal feedback if you are not feeling comfortable at your school. To see a list of what should be included in an anaphylaxis policy, check out our educators.

Remember

Handling different situations

Teens with food allergy share their experiences and the lessons they learned. Read their stories below and share them with others!

Home-ec mix-up

Teen girl mixing baking ingredients in a green bowl, with a carton of eggs on the table.

I was cooking cupcakes for a home economics assignment in class when I had a reaction while mixing eggs and flour. I am allergic to eggs but thought I would be okay, since I wouldn’t be eating the cupcake. I must have had too much contact with it, because it triggered a few allergy symptoms.

What can others learn from this?

Take extra precautions if you are close to things to which you are allergic. I should have been more conscious of hygiene issues and should have been more careful by wearing gloves. I also should have distanced myself from the eggs and asked a friend to do the mixing for me.

Nutty fundraiser

A club at school was selling candy bars in the hall. Most of the chocolate had peanuts or nuts in them, and students were eating them everywhere. I felt very uncomfortable since I have a peanut allergy and I worried that I would touch or eat something that would be contaminated from peanuts. It turns out that the club did not seek permission to sell them and did not know about our school’s ‘peanut-aware’ policy. My friends took me outside to get some air. Afterwards we went back in and informed a teacher about the situation.

What can others learn from this?

Let people know that you are feeling uncomfortable and explain why. Then let an administrator know about it. You shouldn’t have to feel unsafe in a place you know should be safe. If your school has an anaphylaxis policy, take the initiative to make sure it’s followed.

The class trip

My class was going to see a musical and dine at a Chinese restaurant afterwards. I told the trip co-ordinator that this was a risky situation, since I am allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and this restaurant cooks everything in peanut oil. They also had a buffet, which poses a great cross-contamination risk. The trip co-ordinator did nothing and told my principal that I was being “fussy”. I told my mom about the problem who spoke with the teacher and principal but at that point it was too late to change the restaurant so I ended up not going on the trip.

What can others learn from this?

Unfortunately I missed out on the trip because I didn’t feel comfortable going to this restaurant. Looking back, I wish I had gone to the play and had worked with my school in the planning of the event by suggesting a different restaurant.

Resources
  • Watch our webinar led by Kyle Dine, food allergy educator, and a panel of high school students with food allergy. This webinar covers how to navigate food allergy in a high school environment, and how to prepare for the transition to high school.
  • Webinar: Managing food allergy in high school