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Wish list for allergy patients off to a dorm

August 21, 2008

Because high indoor allergen counts have been linked to the development of allergies and asthma, Dr. Lisa Sullivan offers a wish list for allergy and asthma patients going off to prep school or college.

Parents and students should keep receipts for products purchased, because they qualify for medically necessary items for tax or health savings account purposes.

Air conditioned room with windows closed

It keeps pollen and molds out and maintains a desirable humidity. Students may ask their allergist or primary care provider for a letter of medical necessity.

Wood, laminate or tile flooring

Carpeting greatly increases dust mite concentration and can trap other allergens (mold, pollen, roach particles, pet dander, foods).

HEPA-grade vacuum cleaner

These cleaners remove allergens that typically flow right through conventional bags. Remember, allergen particles are smaller than dirt.

An economical version ($80) can be found at area drug stores (i.e., Walmart).

Allergen-proof the bedding

Keep in mind that dust mites love anything that is rarely washed. Minimize the "fluff." Less is more on a bed. The new sleek and modern look works well.

Pick up dust mite encasings for the mattress and pillow. They can be found at local bed/bath stores or online.

Washable blankets or comforters are best. Avoid duvets and wash linens weekly.

Humidity control

Keep humidity in the dorm room between 35 and 45 percent. If humidity is too high in the summer, turn on the A/C, and if too low in the winter, add a vaporizer.

Buy an inexpensive humidity detector ($10) at a local hardware/drug store and keep it in the room.

Medication management

Keep daily medications near the toothbrush so you won't forget your allergy medications. Always carry your inhaler or Epi Pen/Twin Ject if you have one.

Use caution in new situations

At parties, or if tempted, don't try new substances. People with allergies and asthma are more prone to adverse reactions.

No smoking

Kindly ask that friends refrain from smoking in your room and car.

Lisa Sullivan M.D. of Highland Park practices medicine in Buffalo Grove.