Asthma On Campus: Parties and alcohol

Even if you aren't going to a party school you'll probably still encounter alcohol at somepoint in your college years. Hopefully, your fellow party goers will respect your decisions about alcohol. I found friends who were happy to have a sober driver around since I generally abstain from alcohol. Yes, I did go out some nights after I turned 21 with friends to bars for drinks. I drank in moderation and experienced some asthma symptoms along the way.
Neither my family doctor nor my allergist has had a problem with me consuming a few drinks occasionally. They always encouraged me to listen to my body and take things slowly. Kerri certainly covered how alcohol can trigger asthma and I most of her ideas ring true with my experiences.1 Some things that I do if I'm headed out for a night on the town:

  1. Read the medication warnings (or ask the pharmacist next time you're in). Several of medications over the years have carried the warning not to combine with alcohol as it may cause dizziness. I do as the warning label says and don't drive.
  2. Set your alarm for morning medication o'clock. Set your medications up on the night stand or wherever they'll be easy to find from bed. Pour yourself a big glass of water. When the alarm take the medications, drink the water, and then feel free to go back to bed if you like. You'll be a much happier camper when you decide greet the day.
  3. Pick good friends to go out with who know their limits and will respect your limits. You'll have a nice time that night and not hate yourself in the morning if you are with friends who don't encourage you to keep drinking no matter what.
  4. Trying only one new kind of alcohol per night. Similar to finding food allergies using an elimination diet it is easier to figure out it's the wine that is making you wheeze if that's the only new drink you had tonight. I'm part of the 30-35% of asthmatics who has worsening asthma symptoms when I drink.2 Wine tends to be a trigger for me. I haven't tried to narrow down if it's the sulfites or not.
  5. Pretreat before you head out on the dance floor. One of our favorite places to head after a drink or two was to the local dance club. While dancing the night away was a good time, drinking water and getting my usual pre exercise routine made it even better.

It bares repeating that alcohol impairs judgement and you shouldn't give in to peer pressure. I know you've heard it a hundred times before and I don't mean to sound like your mom but make your own choices. My college buddies had similar ideas about what a fun night should entale. We respected each other's decisions to drink or not and always designated a driver or walked home. More nights than not we had plenty of fun without alcohol.
Now that I've graduated and moved along into the adult world I rarely imbibe but do enjoy a nice drink on a special occasion. The friends I hang out with now are similarly apathetic about drinking. Can you enjoy an alcoholic beverage without having asthma symptoms?

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