Asthma and Allergies Go to College
Here are some tips for meeting the challenges of
asthma and allergies at college.
A healthy living space can make a big difference in helping to keep your asthma and allergies under control. Be very specific about stating your needs when filling out your housing preference form. Simply indicating that you have allergies is not sufficient. Find out whether you need a letter from your physician documenting your allergies or need to get approval from the school’s disability office in order to have your housing requests accommodated – for example, to not be assigned a basement room or a roommate from a home with cats. The presence of wall-to-wall carpeting, mold, or pet allergen in your room, or constantly walking through a hallway filled with tobacco smoke, could make you a frequent visitor to the college health center.
Schedule a check-up with your allergist, to get an updated written asthma management plan, extra supplies of medications, and copies of prescriptions.
Find out what services the campus health service provides. Is it staffed 24 hours a day? Do they offer nebulizer treatments, or transport students to a nearby hospital or urgent care center? Your doctor can then decide what to recommend that you have, such as your own nebulizer or a supply of additional medications, to be used only in case of a more severe flare-up.
Take allergy-proof pillow and mattress encasings if you are allergic to dust mites. You may need the extra-long size, commonly used in dorms. On “move-in” day, encase the mattress (and box spring, if there is one) first thing, before your other items are dumped onto the bed.
Pack and store belongings in plastic storage bins (underbed and various other sizes) to cut down on dust catchers in the room.
Get your own cleaning supplies, such as a box of disposable special dust-catcher cloths, to make it easy to quickly wipe around the room regularly. A dust mask will come in handy if you are sensitive to dust or will be using a vacuum cleaner.
Find out about possible special challenges, such as a damp moldy climate or diesel fumes from buses idling outside the dorm window. Are building renovations planned that may expose you to dust or fumes? Is there adequate ventilation; do the windows open? Can you have an air conditioner?
Keep an asthma diary, with peak flow readings if you use one, for a couple of weeks so you will have a baseline for measuring the severity of any asthma episodes that occur. Make sure you have your peak flow meter (if you use one) and spacers, along with an adequate supply of up-to-date prescription medications.
Think about how to handle situations that may arise, such as a roommate who uses cologne or has frequent visitors who smoke.
Think about how you will tell roommates, dorm resident advisors, coaches, and friends about possible allergic reactions, the location of your epinephrine or other medications, and how they can help you stay healthy and safe.
If you are sensitive to or allergic to latex, be cautious about what condoms you use. Ask the health center or local pharmacist about alternatives to latex.
Click here for more information about FOOD ALLERGIES at college: