APFED’s efforts focus on creating a supportive and safe environment for students affected by chronic eosinophilic disorders
(Atlanta, GA)— The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED), a non-profit advocacy organization established in 2001, offers a wealth of free resources and tools online to support children with eosinophilic-associated diseases in a school environment.
Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that plays a role in fighting off certain infections and in allergic reactions and inflammatory processes. When a person has too many eosinophils without a known cause, he/she may have an eosinophil-associated disease.
These chronic and sometimes debilitating conditions are further characterized by the areas of the body in which the eosinophils have accumulated. The most common of these diseases are eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGIDs), which affect the esophagus, stomach, and/or intestines.
It is not known what causes EGID, but food and environmental allergies may play a role. Therefore, students with EGID may need to follow special diets, and in some cases, these diets may be severely restricted. In some cases, a special formula, sometimes delivered via a feeding tube, may be required to ensure adequate nutrition.
“The school setting can be stressful for students who have an eosinophil-associated disease,” said APFED Executive Director Mary Jo Strobel. “In addition to adhering to challenging dietary restrictions that might be prescribed as treatment, students may feel symptomatic, such as feeling nauseous or fatigued, and may miss many school days as a result. This in turn can underscore feelings of anxiety, isolation, and depression.”
APFED’s school resources are designed specifically to empower students, families, educators, and school staff to better plan for EGID management in the school setting.
Available freely to the public on apfed.org, the resources include information about Section 504 and Individual Education Plans (IEP), as well as templates, forms, and sample accommodations that could be considered for students with EGID. The website also offers recorded webinars and video interviews with a variety of experts about managing EGID and school.
“As more cases of EGID are diagnosed, the need for education rises,” says Strobel. “Our newest resource includes a classroom-friendly information sheet that explains EGIDs to the students and teaches them how they can help a friend or classmate who has this condition.”
To learn more about eosinophil-associated disease and to access free school resources, visit apfed.org.
About Eosinophil-associated Diseases
Eosinophils (“ee-oh-sin-oh-fills”) are a type of white blood cell that helps our immune systems fight off infections and parasites. They also play a role in allergic reactions and inflammatory processes.
When a person has symptoms and an elevated number of eosinophils in their tissues, organs, and/or bloodstream, without a known cause, he/she may have an eosinophil-associated disease. These conditions are further characterized by the areas of the body in which the eosinophils have accumulated.
A few examples include the esophagus (eosinophilic esophagitis), stomach (eosinophilic gastritis), or the lungs (eosinophilic asthma).
Symptoms of eosinophil disease may vary depending on the area of the body affected, and by age. Patients often embark on a long, frustrating journey seeing many different specialists before a diagnosis is made. Although not commonly life-threatening, these chronic diseases require lifelong treatment and can cause debilitating symptoms. Most subsets of eosinophil-associated disease do not yet have an FDA-approved pharmaceutical indicated for treatment.
About American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED)
The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) is a non-profit organization dedicated to patients and their families coping with eosinophilic disorders. APFED’s mission is to embrace, support, and improve the lives of patients and families affected by eosinophil-associated diseases through education and awareness, research, support, and advocacy. www.apfed.org