Becoming a College Freshman with a Life-Threatening Allergy

By Lorena Roberts on August 9, 2018

Food allergies are no stranger to our society these days, and according to a recent press release, students heading to college this year are more at-risk for putting themselves in danger (whether they know it or not). While you might be much more focused on buying decorations for your new dorm room, matching pens and notebooks, and finding your new roommate on social media,  what you might not be considering is how much potential danger there is in college when it comes to your life-threatening allergy (LTA). Whether you’re allergic to bee stings or latex, it’s equally as necessary that you consider each of the following, as your allergy could threaten the safety of your life:

via Pexels.com

1. Refill their AUVI-Q prescription

Letting your AUVI-Q expire or run out of renewals is probably the worst thing you can do. Having a life-threatening allergy isn’t a joke, and a situation that calls for administering of that AUVI-Q can arise in a split second.

Consider training your new friends on how to use one of these injectors, should the situation present itself.

2. Always, always, always avoid allergens

Being completely educated on the situations you are in, what you’re about to partake in, is another essential part of being a college student with a life-threatening allergy. Ensure you consider how important it is to steer clear of your allergens at all costs. 

3. Be familiar with the symptoms of anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a fatal allergic reaction to allergens. This can happen when someone has been exposed to their allergen and does not have the necessary means to protect themselves. Common signs and symptoms include red rash, swollen throat or areas of the body, wheezing, passing out, chest tightness, trouble breathing, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping, or pale or red color to the face and body. Make sure you and your friends know these signs and symptoms, as you may need to be able to recognize this someday.

4. Carry two AUVI-Q injectors

Just in case something happens to the first one, it’s always smart to have a “back-up.” Consider carrying two doses of AUVI-Q.

5. Communicate your allergy with staff at college

The Resident Assistant (RA) on your floor is the perfect person to make aware of your life-threatening allergy. It’s up to you whether you want to tell others, including your professors, about your “condition.”

6. Prepare an emergency care plan

Should it come down to a dire emergency, make sure there is a plan in place for your care. You may want to discuss this with your parents. Consider mentioning to your RA that maybe a holding a floor meeting about how/when/where to inject epinephrine at the beginning of the year is a good idea.

7. Be prepared/do your research

Both you and your parents are in charge of knowing everything there is to know about your allergy. As you step into a whole new life — a whole new world — make sure you’re armed with what you need to be successful.

Lorena graduated from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville last December with a BA in Honors Psychology. After some serious soul-searching, she's decided to pursue a Master's in teaching in order to teach middle school math! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Whippet mix, Gio, at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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