What you need to know about managing your allergies at university

allergies at university

What you need to know about managing your allergies at university

Heading off to university is a huge leap. Whether it’s you yourself going or you’re a parent of a child who’s flying the nest in September, it’s a big moment. It’s time to leave your old life behind and head off into something new. You have to juggle classes, forge new friendships, and have a little fun as you go.

But if you have allergies – especially a food allergy – it’s going to change the experience. You can’t freely do what a lot of your peers can and it adds a whole host of fresh hurdles to avoid. What are some of the key lessons you’re going to have to learn? We have three of the biggest right here.

Note: if you’re a student heading out on your own for the first time, we hope these tips help you manage your allergies. And if you’re a parent, we hope they put your mind at ease – even if just a little bit.

You’re not going to be living alone

This one sounds obvious: in your first year, you’re likely in halls. In future years, you’ll have to share with friends. Either way, it means living with people who don’t have the same concerns as you and sharing an environment that could be rife for cross-contamination.

There’s going to have to be a certain amount of education. You’ll need to let them know what exactly you’re allergic to, how it can affect you, and what you would like from them. It would also be good to find someone in particular you can trust to talk to about your adrenaline auto-injector (AAI). Having someone who knows where it is and how to apply it is going to be critical.

Since you can’t guarantee they’ll always be the most vigilant (even if they’re trying their hardest), you’re going to have to learn to create a safe space where you can. Always thoroughly clean countertops before cooking, only use your kitchen wares, and clearly label all of your things.

You’ll have to take some personal responsibility

As you’ve been living with your allergy, you’ve likely had to grow up faster than your peers. So you’ll be used to taking care of yourself to a degree. But the odds are you’ll be on your own now – no parents to keep watch. And that comes with a level of responsibility.

You need to look after yourself, even though there will be times at university when you can’t. Yes, you might get a bit inebriated at some point. That’s going to impair your decision-making skills. Whenever you drink, just make sure you can still look after yourself. We all do dumb things when under the influence, but stay safe where you can.

Another aspect is looking after your health. What’s your plan if you need to refill a prescription? Are you regularly checking the expiration date on your AAI? Do you know who your doctor is if you have to talk about your allergy? It’s on you to be proactive now.

Look after your own space

Part of managing your allergy is going to be controlling the environment around you where you can. And there are plenty of steps you can take to keep yourself safe. Number one – and you might not like this truth – is getting good at cleaning. Cleaning your kitchen, your room, and your shared spaces. It’s necessary to remove any allergens before you use a surface.

Another step you could take is to invest in something like a mini fridge. It might seem like an overreaction, but it’s a simple way to separate your food and ensure there’s no cross-contamination. And take your food shopping seriously. You’re going to have to learn how to interrogate ingredient labels if you’re not experienced already.

University is a lot of fun. But so much of it is about learning to take care of yourself. You’ll be surprised how much education takes place outside the classroom. What’s important is looking after yourself, taking your condition seriously, and – most of all – having a great time.

Whether you’re a university student or a parent of a soon-to-be one, make sure you’re ready for what comes next. Talk to our allergy specialists for ongoing advice about how to best manage your allergies. Get in touch on 02031 433 449 or register as a patient with us here.

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