The Importance of Protecting Against Allergies

Kaitlyn Tobin, Contributor

Even though allergies have been around as long as humans have, they still haven’t gotten the attention they need and deserve.

An allergy is a condition that can cause illness when an individual touches, eats, or breathes in certain foods, like peanuts and other nuts, or substances, such as animal dander, pollen, and certain medications.

Allergies can affect individuals in various ways, with symptoms ranging from making an individual feel strange or sick, to life-threatening situations, such as anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock can occur within seconds of being exposed to an allergen, and causes the body to go into full-body shock. If a person begins to experience anaphylaxis, they must receive an epinephrine shot (EpiPen) right away; their life depends on it.

Allergic reactions can be extremely dangerous and must be prevented at all costs. Students should always wash their hands after they eat lunch, because hands can quickly spread food allergens, called cross-contact. For some people, even a small trace of food can be critical to their health. Students and staff should always consider the safety of others while eating lunch at school, and make sure that they wash their hands with warm water and antibacterial soap.

Some people are led to believe that a squirt of hand sanitizer does the trick after a meal, but that has been proven false. According to Dr. Scott Sicherer in an article on Allergy Living, “Antibacterial gels and foams do not remove debris from hands, they only kill germs. These sanitizers will not remove milk, peanuts or even dirt from hands.” Warm water and soap is the best choice, but antibacterial wipes are also better than using hand sanitizers.

The importance of avoiding allergens at home, at work, and at school cannot be stressed enough. While allergies have been receiving a little more attention over the last couple years, it is clear that they are often being forgotten. According to the American Academy of Allergies and Immunology, allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide. 

Several students and teachers at Nashoba Regional High School have severe allergies. For example, junior Riley Seith suffers a very severe allergy to shellfish. She has experienced anaphylactic shock before, and worries about experiencing it again. She is one of many students feeling the same way.

It is also important to realize that some students and teachers must refrain from coming in contact with certain foods in order to keep loved ones at home safe. This is something that many people don’t think about, but is significant to the health of others.

For instance, Grace Fiori, another student at Nashoba, has a mom at home who is severely allergic to the oils of several nuts, including peanuts. “If I bring home the oils of the nuts and hug her, or touch the counters, and she gets them on her, it can be really bad,” she commented.

Allergies are something to be taken very seriously, and should receive recognition and prevention at the high school, the district, and around the world. Soap and water are the best ways to clean potential allergens off of hands. Many people have to worry each day that they might come in contact with certain foods and substances. The safety of others rely on students and teachers’ decisions.