Upper respiratory illness
Student Health Services is happy to welcome you back to campus. As you may already have noticed we are seeing many cases of upper respiratory illness. It’s pretty early in the illness season but not uncommon when so many people are so close together such as on college campuses.
Most of us get at least one cold per year. Symptoms typically include:
- nasal congestion
- sore throat
- body aches
- ear fullness
- swollen glands
Symptoms of a cold usually last 7 to 14 days. Most infections are viral, so antibiotics won’t make you feel better faster.
What to do if you get a cold
- Drink at least 8 oz. (1 glass) of water, juice, soup, or tea each hour. This helps prevent dehydration. Do NOT drink alcohol. It contributes to dehydration and can interact with medications.
- Get enough rest. Your body needs energy to heal. Try going to bed early so you can keep up with your academic requirements. If you miss a class, be sure to communicate with your instructors.
- Inhale moist air, use a saline nasal spray, take steamy showers or use a vaporizer. This helps loosen secretions. Vaporizers and neti pots are available at the pharmacy.
- Gargle frequently to soothe a sore throat or calm a cough. Use approximately 1/4 tsp. salt in a glass of warm water. Gargling helps reduce swelling, relieves pain, and helps wash away secretions in the back of the throat. Hard candy, throat sprays or throat lozenges can also help.
- Vitamins and supplements. Many people feel that Airborne, vitamin C, zinc, and Echinacea help them avoid or treat illness. Some limited studies prove effectiveness, other studies do not.
- Non-prescription cold and cough medications and pain relievers don’t ‘cure’ you but they can decrease symptoms so you are more productive during the day and can sleep better at night. Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) reduce fever and relieve pain. Decongestants (pseudoephedrine) decreases nasal symptoms. The pharmacy carries many cold medicines that you can ‘charge’ to your student account.
Keep it to yourself
- Cough or sneeze in your sleeve or tissue. Throw out the tissue!
- WASH YOUR HANDS with warm water and soap or use alcohol-based sanitizers. Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of many illnesses, including colds. Carry hand sanitizer in your book bag.