Asthma and Dorm Life

college studentsGoing to college can be a fun and exciting time, however, for asthma and allergy sufferers it should also be a time for preparation. Nearly 40-50 million people in the United States have allergies and 20.3 million people are affected by asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Managing Asthma Symptoms at College

Leaving home to attend college does not mean that asthma and allergy sufferers can leave behind the responsibilities of taking care of their asthma and allergies. "More than ever, the college years are a time for students to step up to the plate and become their own health care advocates," said Martha White, MD, Fellow of the AAAAI and Past Chair of the AAAAI's Public Education Committee. "By continuing to take their medication and following their treatment plan, allergic and asthmatic students can take control of their condition and enjoy their college experience."

The AAAAI recommends allergy and asthma sufferers take the following steps to prepare for college:


  • Make an appointment with your allergist/immunologist before leaving for college
  • Refill your prescriptions and have your doctor find a local allergist for you to see while at college
  • Complete an asthma action plan and provide a copy for your roommate, resident assistant and hall director
  • Request a smoke-free room and roommate; smoke is a trigger for most people with asthma
  • Equip your dorm room with an air purifier and bring extra filters.
  • Try to avoid social situations where you will be exposed to smoke and other triggers


  • Keep dorm room clutter to a minimum. Try to limit upholstered furniture or secondhand rugs as these are filled with allergens
  • Dorm life breeds mold, dust mites, bacteria and viruses. It is important to keep your room clean and free of these triggers, remember to vacuum and dust often
  • Select an air purifier that will adequately clean the air for your room size.
  • Encase bedding with dust mite proof covers and wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water, to keep your room free of dust mites and other airborne particles
  • Keep track of high pollen and mold counts in your area that may affect your allergies. Check out the National Allergy Bureau's Web site for more information,
  • Arrange to continue receiving allergy shots, if needed, with a local allergist/immunologist
  • Take medications as prescribed by your physician and store them in a safe place


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