Teens with allergies or asthma who are heading for college later this year should begin preparing for the transition now, an expert says.
“For most teens, going away to college marks their first time living independently,” said Dr. David Stukus, a member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Public Relations Committee.
“In addition to moving to a new place, many must learn to manage their own schedule, diet, exercise and health. Young people may find their allergies and asthma neglected due to other, seemingly more important demands on their attention,” he said in a college news release.
Stukus offers tips on how teens with allergies or asthma can prepare for college in an article published May 3 in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
The first step, he said, is to meet with your allergist and:
- Review your asthma and/or anaphylaxis action plan and confirm it’s updated.
- Ask for a referral to an allergist close to your school.
- Get a copy of your most recent medical records, including lab results and allergy test results, and have them sent to your new allergist.
- Compile a list of current medications, find a new pharmacy and have new prescriptions sent there.
- Confirm your vaccinations are up-to-date and appropriate for your new environment, including meningitis and HPV. Also, pinpoint hospitals and emergency facilities near your new location that will accept your insurance.
It’s also important to ask the college about special accommodation policies, any required paperwork, and the opportunity to prescreen roommates. Provide the college, resident assistant and roommates with a list of your allergy triggers, and consider getting medical identification jewelry to help others understand your triggers, Stukus said.
Inspect the food preparation facilities and meet with the chef to discuss safe food preparation, and check out apps and other technology that can help you manage allergies and asthma.
Ask about filter replacement if your dorm room has forced heat and/or air conditioning. Having to open windows increases exposure to pollen.
Check the expiration date on your EpiPen and rescue inhaler and keep them with you at all times. You should have more than one auto injector pen available in case of a severe allergic reaction, Stukus said.
The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has more on allergens and irritants.