Cold (Upper Respiratory Infection)

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Mild fever (less than 101)
  • Headache
  • Sinus pressure or congestion
  • Symptoms may last 1-2 weeks


Treatment suggestions:

Symptoms are treated with over the counter (OTC) meds. Antibiotics DO NOT work to treat the common cold. Always be sure to read instructions on medications and only take as directed.

Some commonly used medications are:

  • Antihistamines (i.e. loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), diphenhydramine (Benadryl)) help with sneezing, runny nose, post nasal drainage. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is often more sedating than the other non-sedating antihistamines listed.
  • Decongestants (i.e. pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)) help with congestion, sinus pressure and sinus headaches. Available in 4 hour and 12 hour dosages (ask for at the pharmacy). Nasal strips or nasal sprays may also help, but do not use the decongestant nasal sprays for more than 2-3 days as overuse can cause your symptoms to worsen.
  • Pain relievers (i.e. acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin), naproxen (Aleve)) help relieve pain, headache, sore throat and body aches as well as help reduce fever. Throat sprays and lozenges can also help to sooth a sore throat.
  • Cough suppressants/Expectorants (i.e. Robitussin products, Mucinex products, cough drops) may help to reduce coughing and chest congestion.


Other Treatment Suggestions:

  • Get plenty of sleep to allow your body to rest and recuperate
  • Gargle with warm salt water may help soothe sore throat
  • Breathe in steam or take a hot shower to help open nasal passages
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help thin out mucus and stay hydrated
  • Avoid smoke and other irritants


When to visit the Student Health Center:

If you have attempted taking over the counter medicine for several days without relief and/or your symptoms seem to be getting worse, it may be time to see a provider to evaluate your symptoms. Occasionally, colds can become more serious health conditions that require medical treatment from a healthcare provider.


Prevention Tips:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Frequent use of hand sanitizers
  • Avoid close contact with others who have a cold
  • Keep hands away from face and mouth