3 Tips College Students with Allergies Need to Know

Are you worried about your respiratory allergies as you prepare to start a new college school year? If so, you're not alone. From dingy dorms and messy roommates to friends with pets and fall pollen, college is full of allergens. But don't worry! To give you some of the best college allergy tricks and tips, we spoke with Allergy Insider to provide you three important college allergy tips as you prepare for the new school year.

Tip 1: Identify and reduce

It's important to have allergy supplies like tissues, medicine, and eye drops on hand, however, they don't fix the bottom-line problem: exposure to allergens. If you are reading this and thinking, "I have every allergy symptom imaginable and can't get relief," you may want to consider talking to your healthcare provider about getting allergy blood tested to identify exactly what you are reacting to.

Your symptoms may only be caused by dust mites in your dorm mattress (gross we know...), but simply putting a dust mite cover on your mattress or pillows could be the solution you need to reduce exposure and keep you symptom-free

Think of allergies as different liquids being poured into a cup. A splash of pollen, a squeeze of dog dander, a dash of dust mites, and all of a sudden, the glass is spilling over. When this "spill-over" happens, that's when you start expressing symptoms like itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, etc. But, if you can reduce the amount of allergens in the glass, then it may never spill over and you won't react. We call this stacking of allergens the symptom threshold, and the amount of allergen exposure needed before it's breached is different for everyone.

This is why it's important to know exactly what you're allergic to so that you can reduce exposure to the things you can control, like dust mites, indoor mold, and pet dander. If you're interested in getting tested before the school year starts (or during), Allergy Insider has a helpful tool to help you prepare for your doctor's visit.

Tip 2: Get the tools you need to reduce exposure

You already bought that note-taking software and a new cover for your laptop, but you're going to need some accessories to help you with your allergies too.

Here are some items to add to your online shopping cart that may help with reducing exposure to specific allergens.

  • Dust mite covers1
  • Vacuums/AC units/air purifiers with HEPA filters2,3
  • Daily shower spray
  • Antibacterial bathmat
  • Bleach and other cleaning supplies for faucets.
  • Vacuums/AC units/air purifiers with HEPA filters2,3
  • Pet bed separate from your own
  • Sticky pet fur roller
  • Pet grooming wipes
  • Pests (cockroaches & mice):
  • Insect/mice traps
  • Sealed containers for food that's left out
  • Chore wheel (got to keep your space clean!)
  • *Disclaimer: These are suggestions. Speak to your healthcare provider to cater to your specific symptoms

    Tip 3: Inform friends and roommates

    Setting boundaries in college is of the utmost importance. Whether it's you don't want to hear your roommate's Hyperpop at 3 am or that you'd appreciate it if they didn't invite guests who bring their dog with them, these conversations are important for living a happy, healthy life.

    At the end of the day, allergies are a medical condition and you shouldn't be afraid to speak up if a friend or roommate is jeopardizing your health. A roommate who leaves a pot of spaghetti on the counter may not only be a little slobby, but if you have an allergy to cockroaches or mice, they could also be putting jeopardizing your health.

    Here are some actionable ways to reduce exposure to allergens with friends and roommates.

  • Avoid sharing pillows and blankets
  • Have a conversation about buying dust mite covers for shared furniture
  • Trade chores so that you aren't always stuck cleaning the bathroom
  • Clean up any water on the ground after a shower
  • Keep shower curtains open (bunched-up curtains may increase mold)
  • Spray the shower with daily shower spray after use
  • Avoid leaving wet towels bunched on the ground
  • Ask friends to not bring their pets over
  • Use a lint roller on clothes after being around dogs or cats
  • Ask roommates to keep their pets out of your bedroom or kitchen
  • No pets on shared furniture
  • Pests (cockroaches & mice):
  • Create an organized chore schedule
  • Avoid leaving dishes in the sink or food out in the open
  • Clean the crack between the oven and counter (you know the one) once a month
  • Store food in tight containers.
  • College can be exciting but also frightening, and allergies shouldn't add any unwanted stress. So be sure to get tested, identify your triggers, and work to reduce exposure. It's your body and you should feel empowered to take action and not let allergies ruin your college experience.

    If you're interested in more information about indoor, outdoor, or food allergies, be sure to visit Allergy Insider! GO [insert your college's mascot]!

    References:
    1. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology [Internet]. Arlington Heights, IL: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; 2021. Available from: https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/indoor-allergens-ttr. Accessed July 2022.
    2. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology [Internet]. Arlington Heights, IL: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; 2021. Available from: https://acaai.org/allergies/allergy-treatment/air-filters. Accessed July 2022.
    3. United States Environmental Protection Agency [Internet]. Washington, DA; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 2021. Available from: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/air-cleaners-and-air-filters-home-0. Accessed July 2022.

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