Keeping symptoms under control as you leave home

That acceptance letter from your dream school last spring felt pretty great. But now you’re away from home for the first time navigating how to manage your allergy or asthma symptoms…all during an ongoing pandemic.

Following are five tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) to help you manage allergy and asthma symptoms in a new environment.

  • Coordinate with your allergist – If your school is a long distance from home, you may need to request a referral to an allergist who is closer instead of just relying on visits over breaks. Find out if your prescriptions need to be updated or changed. You will also want to ask/consider whether you’re in a different climate and if that affects your symptoms.


  • If you are old enough to go away to college… – Whether away from home or not, you are probably old enough to handle many of the details surrounding your healthcare. Talk to your parents to determine how your health insurance works and who your providers might be. Your college could have a plan if you are not already covered. Do you know where to go for urgent health care? Find out now so you are not desperately searching in an emergency.


  • Become your own advocate – It is time for you to start taking on the role of primary point person for your own health issues, particularly if one or both of your parents have been handling those duties. You will need to oversee figuring out where to pick up prescriptions and order refills. You will also need to be responsible for letting people around you know if there are allergic triggers – food or otherwise – that you need to steer clear of. Discuss your allergies or asthma with roommates, friends, your resident advisor, and anyone else living nearby to let them know what you must avoid and how to help you if you do have an allergic reaction or asthma flare.


  • Dorm rooms are supposed to be dirty, right? – Not so much. Turns out that cleaning your room can help you avoid allergens like dust and mold. Use products like sheet covers and air filters to keep allergens away from your nose and eyes. Ask if you have direct access to replaceable filtration if your dorm room has forced air heat. Finally, find out if your dorm has air conditioning. Some schools will provide this to students with a medical need even if it is not standard as open dorm windows can expose you to more pollen.


  • You can’t survive on pizza – Whether your dorm has first-rate food options or less-than-stellar choices, it is important that, at minimum, the food is safe for you to eat. If you have food allergies, notify school officials as they should have special accommodations for students with food allergies. Talk to food handlers about safety standards and ask about ingredients at every meal.

If you’re in the Chicagoland area and are looking for more information about controlling your allergies and asthma, schedule an appointment today.