Roommate allergies are just one of the potential issues that you need to address in a shared-living environment.
With allergies on the rise, you don’t just have to worry about who will vacuum this week. You may find yourself navigating life with a person with severe allergies to any number of substances from food to cleaning products. Here are some methods for avoiding allergic situations.
Believe Your Roommate
It seems obvious, but many people with allergies run into others who don’t seem to comprehend the seriousness of their situation. If your roommate tells you that even having peanut butter on the premises is dangerous for her, don’t bring any home. If your new roommate tells you that your favorite cleaning product triggers migraines, believe him. Just because it never gave you a headache doesn’t mean someone else couldn’t have a legitimate problem with it.
Work Together to Make Home Safe and Comfortable
Your new roommate is not trying to be picky because she enjoys it. She’d probably love nothing more than to buy the cheapest shower cleaner on the market. However, if it’s going to make her sick, you’ll both have problems. With plenty of natural cleaners on the market and recipes to make your own at home, you’ll both breathe easier. There are more important arguments to hash out – like who will do the actual scrubbing of the shower.
Respect the Need for Separate Foods
Cross contamination is a real problem for people with food allergies. Perhaps your roommate can tolerate the problem foods in the apartment. However, he won’t do well if you accidentally contaminate his jelly jar with an allergen. Just because you didn’t lick your knife before reaching into that delicious strawberry jelly doesn’t mean it’s OK.
If you just used it to get butter and your roommate has a dairy allergy, that jelly can not be eaten by him without risking an allergic reaction. Your roommate may even want to keep separate dishes if there is a food allergy. This is a safety issue. Please treat it as such.
Know How to Handle an Allergic Reaction
This is especially important in the case of people who may go into anaphylactic shock. Ask your roommate what you should do if she does have an allergic reaction. If the answer is to use her epi-pen®, make it your business to know where she keeps it and how to use it. They are easy to use, but a little practice with the trainer pen is helpful during a real emergency. For roommates with less severe allergies, letting them get some rest in a dark and quiet space is the answer. So turn down the music or put your headphones on while he sleeps it off.
Whatever the allergy, the key open communication and respect. Each of you need to be on the same page with the knowledge about the allergies and how to live with them. People are very adaptable. Soon you’ll be navigating your living situation with ease in spite of this new challenge.
How have you addressed allergic reactions among roommates? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.