Skip to content

Asthma Health Center

My WebMD: Coping with Asthma at College

A third-year student at University of Virginia offers tips on managing asthma while away from home.
Font Size
A
A
A
By Gracie Terzian
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

I think my mother was more worried about my going to college two years ago than I was. I have had asthma since I was very young.

It was worse when I was younger. I used to have to use an inhaler before I ran the mile in PE class. And one time I had a big role in a play, and I developed pneumonia. My asthma got really bad. I remember using my nebulizer -- a machine that creates a medicated inhalable mist -- backstage before I went on. And I hid cough drops on the backs of set pieces to help me get through.

Recommended Related to Asthma

Food Allergies and Asthma

While it's not common for food allergies to cause asthma symptoms, food allergies can cause a severe life-threatening reaction. The most common foods associated with allergic symptoms are: Eggs Cow's milk Peanuts Soy Wheat Fish Shrimp and other shellfish Salads & fresh fruits

Read the Food Allergies and Asthma article > >

Now I'm 20. I'm a third-year student at the University of Virginia, majoring in drama. I've gotten good at keeping my asthma under control. It mostly only acts up when I'm sick, especially when I have a cold or a cough.

The biggest thing I've had to learn is to carry an inhaler with me wherever I go. That can be hard to remember. My solution is to have a bunch of inhalers and leave them in my bags. That way, no matter which bag I pick up -- my backpack, my purse, whatever -- I know I have an inhaler. Every time I go back to my home in Northern Virginia, I get my prescription refilled from my family doctor. I also have my own nebulizer, which I keep in my dorm room and use occasionally.

Asthma at College: "Take It Seriously"

My advice for teenagers with asthma who are at college is to take it seriously. Keep an inhaler with you all the time. That includes when you go out at night. You might think you don't have to pay attention because your parents aren't around, but you have to pay attention more because they're not there to remind you. If you start drinking and dancing and having fun, you might not notice your asthma is acting up. And there are lots of cigarettes at college parties, which can trigger some peoples' asthma, too.

Also, try your best to keep your allergies under control because that keeps your system calmer, making it less likely to erupt into asthma. Know what you're allergic to. Take preventive steps, whether it's wrapping your bedding in allergy-protective covering or avoiding dust and mold. For me it has meant doing daily nasal irrigation and starting up immunotherapy shots again. I think I've learned to take a little better care of myself than other people my age do.

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
 
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
 
Los Angeles skyline in smog
Slideshow
man in a field with allergies
Slideshow
 
Woman holding inhaler
VIDEO
Slideshow Allergy Myths and Facts
Slideshow
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article