Preparing Your Allergies for College

Preparing Your Allergies for College

Preparing for College: Managing Allergies and Asthma

As you venture into your freshman year of college and prepare to live away from home, you’ll likely encounter a series of “firsts.” First roommate who isn’t a sibling, first time taking care of yourself and ensuring proper nutrition, and if you have nasal allergies, food allergies, or asthma, this might be your first experience being solely responsible for managing your symptoms.

Your health, especially concerning allergic diseases, should not be left as an afterthought as you make plans to leave home for college. There are several important considerations to attend to before you embark on your new journey, ensuring that you can proactively manage your allergies and asthma throughout your college years.

Plan Ahead for Allergy and Asthma Care

  1. What will health care visits look like?
    If you have been seeing an allergist for years, you’ll need to decide who you will consult while away at college. Seek a recommendation from your allergist or contact the health care service at your school to inquire about the availability of an allergist on campus. You can also use the allergist locator provided by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology to find an allergist in your new town.

  2. What other health factors will change?
    Consider whether your prescriptions need to be transferred to a new pharmacy and ensure they are up to date. Additionally, research the local climate to understand how it might impact your symptoms. Learn about the prevalent grasses and pollens in the area. If you suffer from severe allergies that could lead to an anaphylactic reaction, identify the nearest hospital and ensure accessibility in case of an emergency. Carry your own insurance card and be aware of how you plan to pay for visits related to your allergies or asthma.

  3. While dorm food has improved, food choices must be safe
    If you have food allergies, it is crucial to inform school officials in advance. Many colleges have accommodations for students with food allergies. Communicate with food handlers about safety standards and inquire about ingredients at every meal. It may be helpful to have a small refrigerator in your dorm room to store safe foods. However, be cautious as some dorm-style refrigerators may not maintain safe temperatures. Research products and monitor the actual temperature inside the fridge to ensure food safety.

  4. Anything that impairs judgment is a danger
    Recognize that impaired judgment due to drugs, alcohol, or lack of sleep can make you less aware of the risks associated with accidental exposure to allergens. Inform your friends and others in your circle, including your resident adviser, about your allergies and asthma so they can assist you in avoiding allergic triggers. It is important that they know how to respond in the event of anaphylaxis. Additionally, be aware of the potential for partners to transfer food allergens through saliva during intimate activities. These discussions may not be easy, but your allergist can provide resources and serve as a starting point.

  5. Cleaning skills can come in handy
    Dorm rooms are often known for being messy and sometimes harboring allergens like dust and mold. Having cleaning skills empowers you to eliminate allergens effectively. Use sheet and pillowcase covers along with HEPA air filters to protect your nose and eyes from allergens. If your residence hall is located near a major road, pollutants might aggravate your asthma symptoms.

  6. Air conditioning is your ally
    If your dorm is equipped with air conditioning, take advantage of its filtration system, which helps keep pollen out. It’s important to avoid opening windows as they can introduce allergens and worsen symptoms for those with seasonal allergies. Some colleges provide accommodations by allowing or providing air conditioning units for students with allergies, even if all dorm rooms aren’t equipped. However, remember to clean the air conditioner regularly to maintain its effectiveness.

Heading off to college is an exciting adventure for most young people, offering opportunities to meet interesting individuals and develop academic skills. To make the most of your freshman year, ensure that you have a solid plan in place to manage potential allergens and symptoms before you leave home in the fall.

Allergies Quiz


Allergies can best be described as: Options: A. Reactions to specific substances B. Inflammation of the lungs C. Excessive dryer sheets D. A sudden increase in pollen levels

See Answer


The correct answer is A. Reactions to specific substances. Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to usually harmless substances, such as pollen, animal dander, or certain foods. These substances, known as allergens, trigger an allergic response in individuals, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, itching, wheezing, or hives.