Preparing for college can be exciting, but it can also feel overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to manage your allergic asthma.

There are going to be a lot of changes that you’ll need to consider when going away to college, and many of them can affect your allergic asthma.

With a little bit of preparation, you’ll be able to manage your college life without letting allergic asthma get in your way.

If you’re used to a parent or guardian taking care of all your prescriptions, scheduling appointments, and knowing about your triggers, now is the time to start figuring all that out for yourself, if you haven’t already.

In most cases, when you go away to college, you’ll be responsible for:

  • keeping up with your medications
  • getting refills
  • scheduling appointments as needed
  • making sure you know about recognizing and controlling your triggers

This is a good thing! You can add taking care of your health to the growing list of skills you’ll be mastering.

And if you’re already familiar with all this, consider yourself one step closer to being ready.

What to do

Consider how your allergies are currently managed and what you’ll need to do in order to keep things in check. The list below covers some of the steps you should take to prepare.

You can also talk with your current doctor, your parents or guardians, or anyone else involved in your care. They can help you determine:

  • what’s working now
  • what might need to change
  • how to prepare for this new adventure

It’s also important to consider how changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may affect your college plans and experience. Many schools have moved classes online or implemented policies regarding face masks and physical distancing while on campus.

It is also important to evaluate safety concerns and planning needed when rooming with others in a dorm or apartment. How you’ll be impacted will depend, in part, on local conditions and restrictions in the area where your college is located.

Whether you head to college across town, somewhere in your state, or around the country (or the world), there’s a good chance you’re going to be entering into several new environments that could trigger your allergic asthma.

This could be due to moving into a new dorm or apartment, spending time in different buildings (like the musty library!), or getting involved in new hobbies or interests.

Any one of the environments you’ll be spending time in could contain one or more common allergic asthma triggers such as:

  • mold
  • pollen
  • dust mites
  • roaches
  • rodents and other animals

If your move is taking you to a new city or climate, you may also see a shift in humidity or seasonal weather changes that can also affect your allergic asthma.

What to do

One of the best things you can do is go prepared. If you need to take preventive medication, make sure your prescriptions are up to date. Schedule your dosage before heading to class or the library.

If you’re living on campus or in an apartment, make sure to:

  • bring dust-mite-proof covers for your pillows and mattress
  • change your sheets frequently
  • keep your room clean to help prevent the buildup of dust

You may want to bring an air purifier for your room as well. Some research, according to a 2011 review, indicates that high-efficiency air filters can play a part in setting up a good environment for your allergic asthma.

Many colleges offer health services for students. While this sounds great in theory, they may only offer basic health services. So, it’s worth researching beforehand what they’ll treat.

It’s important to know how prepared they are to handle your allergic asthma needs or whether you’ll need an off-campus option.

What to do

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests asking questions, such as:

  • How do I fill my prescriptions on campus?
  • Can the health center transfer me to a hospital if needed?
  • Do they offer nebulizer treatments?

If they can’t provide the necessary services, you should look for a provider in the area of your college that can provide at least basic appointments and refill your prescriptions as necessary.

You may also want to talk to the college’s office of student’s disabilities if you require accommodations to be made so you can safely attend school.

Taking your medications regularly can help you control your symptoms.

There are a lot of distractions at college, from classes and sports to friends and social engagements. Through all the distractions, you’ll need to make sure you take your allergy and asthma medication as needed.

What to do

Depending on your treatment plan, you may need to take several different medications to treat your allergy symptoms, asthma symptoms, or both.

Things that may help you remember your medications include:

  • setting a reminder on your phone
  • using a daily pill pack
  • placing the medications in a place you won’t forget them
  • downloading a medication tracker

You should also leave any emergency medications in an area where they’re easily accessible and you won’t forget them.

As part of your planning for college, you should take into account where you’ll be able to refill your prescriptions. Cost and convenience factors may help you decide.

What to do

In some cases, your college health department may carry the medications you need. If they don’t, you can look for nearby pharmacies that may be able to fill your prescriptions if you run out.

Another option for some medications is to get a 3-month supply before leaving for college or scheduling your refills through the mail.

Your living space can play an important part in your overall health and quality of life. Research from 2008 suggests that keeping your indoor living environment clean can help control asthma and allergy symptoms.

Though you can do your part to keep your space clean and manage your allergies, living with a roommate can complicate things if they are not aware of your situation.

Beginning an open discussion about your allergies, possible issues, and how to manage both daily needs and emergencies can help.

What to do

It is important to be honest up front about your medical needs with the people you share your living space with.

Though you can decide how much to share or not share, you should let them know about your condition and why you might need an air purifier, medications, or to keep your room cleaner than others.

An honest conversation upfront may help prevent problems with your roommate down the line.

With about 53 percent of full-time college students drinking in any given month, there’s a strong likelihood alcohol will be offered or available at some point.

Many medications can interact badly with alcohol, including some allergy medications. That’s why it’s important to know how your medications could interact with alcohol if you decide to drink.

What to do

If you plan to drink or think you may drink, you should know what medications you take and how they can interact with alcohol.

Several allergy medications, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine), can cause side effects like drowsiness and dizziness, according to the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In some cases, it can also lead to an overdose.

If you’re not sure whether the medications you’re taking can interact with alcohol, you can talk with your doctor or a pharmacist or look up your medication’s interactions online. This can help you make more informed choices.

Managing your allergic asthma at college can present new challenges. With proper planning, though, you can make sure you’re prepared to attend college ready to control your symptoms.

Planning early, managing your environment, and taking your medications regularly can help make your transition to college life a positive one.