February 25, 2019

How to Prepare for Managing & Treating Allergies at College

If you’re heading to college this fall, you will likely be meeting lots of different people, eating in a variety of places, and living in a unique environment. New environments are always a risk for allergen exposure, and this is definitely the case with college dorms. Whether you have food allergies or environmental allergies, there are several steps to prepare for college life and know how to deal with allergies at school.

1. Does the campus health service offer allergy treatment?

Before you start packing for college, contact the school to learn about the campus health services. Based on your individual needs, you may consider the following:

  • Are health services staffed or available 24/7?
  • Does the school offer nebulizer treatments?
  • Does the college provide transportation to a nearby hospital or urgent care center?
  • What health resources are available in the community?

Talk to your doctor about what you learn so you can collaborate to create a treatment and emergency plan for allergies at your school.

2. How will my allergies be affected when moving to a different city?

If you have seasonal allergies, it can be a good idea to get familiar with the biggest allergy triggers around the school and surrounding areas. A simple web search for that city’s allergy calendar can give you a breakdown of all the suspects. This can help you know what time of year may be the worst for allergies at school.  If your seasonal allergies are particularly bad, make sure to check the top allergy capitals to know which cities to avoid.

The new location may also change the risk of environmental allergies, as well. For example, a more urban environment may have more air pollution triggers. If the college is in a more damp or humid climate than your home, mold triggers may be more severe. While the dampness in college dorms is gross, it can produce mold and trigger allergies at school.

3. What should you pack in your allergy survival kit?

Make sure that you are prepared when you arrive at your new school. This can require a lot of appointments and visits to the doctor before so make sure to start prepping your allergy survival kit early. 

  • Allergy Medication Keep over-the-counter pills, tablets, or nasal sprays within easy access. Be sure to pack plenty, in case your allergies flare-up in a new environment. 
  • Inhalers Be sure to refill and make sure that you have a spare inhaler ahead of time. Make sure you’re familiar with how to properly use an inhaler in case you need to use it as well. 
  • Epi-Pens Make an appointment with your doctor to get more epi-pens if yours are expired or empty. It’s important to be sure to have two epi-pens with you at all times if you have severe allergies. 
  • Allergy-friendly mattress covers Allergy-friendly mattress covers can block dust mites, mold, and mildew from aggravating your allergies at school. Be sure to purchase the appropriate cover size. This can help make your dorm room more comfortable, especially if you suffer from environmental allergies. 
  • HEPA filter If there is space, and if the college allows it, consider purchasing an air purifier for environmental and seasonal allergies. The purifier should have a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, as this will help keep mold and other allergens out of your dorm room.

Make sure you are prepared to do some housekeeping to reduce allergens. Pack at least two sets of bedding so it can be changed frequently to prevent the buildup of allergens such as mold and dust mites. Try to avoid letting your dorm room get too cluttered, which can encourage dust. Keep food in closed containers to discourage cockroaches and other pests.

4. Is my college allergy-friendly?

Depending on your allergies needs, you may want to start researching colleges that accommodate allergies. If you have asthma or are vulnerable to allergies at school, make sure your roommate and residence assistants (RAs) know. Roommates can help keep dorm rooms clean and can be warned against exposing you to smoke, perfumes, and other triggers.

In case of food allergies, cultivate a relationship with the school’s dining services. Food allergies may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, so you should contact the school’s disability services office to let them know of your food allergy needs.

Develop a plan for managing food allergies in your new environment. Understand the importance of maintaining an allergy-friendly diet, and create a Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. Share this plan with RAs, as well as roommates and close friends.

5. How do you prep for allergies in college?

If you’ve never done so, or if it has been several years, be sure to get allergy testing to know what you’re allergic to. Make sure the clinic tests for allergens that are most prevalent in the college town. Even without allergy treatment afterward, your will know more about your allergy triggers and how to avoid them.

At Aspire Allergy & Sinus, we can test and treat up to 58 environmental and seasonal allergens. 

Once you received a skin test for environmental or seasonal allergies, we can help develop an allergy treatment plan. Immunotherapy treatment with either allergy shots or allergy drops is safe and effective for long-term allergy relief.

Summer is the perfect time to start creating the habit of taking allergy drops. The challenge here is remembering to take your allergy drops three times a day. It’ll be easier for them to start a new habit this summer than trying to start a new habit during the school year. The best way to get accustomed to taking the drops is by taking them after brushing your teeth. You can leave the drops out next to the toothbrush and it will easily become a part of your morning and evening routine.

By doing this, you don’t have to worry about allergies getting in the way of your college education and experience. Start creating an allergy treatment plan and make an appointment today!

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