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Student Health Services

Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections, usually called "the common cold," may include sore throat, fever, headache, earache, sneezing, runny nose, congestion or cough. No specific treatment is available for the common cold since it is caused by a virus, but antibiotics can be prescribed for secondary bacterial infections.

What To Do

  1. Get plenty of rest.
  2. Drink plenty of water, juice, tea, or eat popsicles, soup, or gelatin.
  3. Eat as much of a balanced diet as you can. A cold sometimes causes a loss of appetite.
  4. For fever, sore throat, head and muscle aches, take acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.) every 3-4 hours. If you are also having runny nose, cough or nasal congestion, your clinician will tell you what and how much to take. A daily multiple vitamin also may help.
  5. For a sore throat, gargle every two hours with salt water (1/2 to 1/4 teaspoon in a large glass of water) or take throat lozenges.
  6. Use a humidifier in your room (especially at night) to help you breathe easier. If you don't have a humidifier, take a hot shower and breathe in the steam.
  7. Your clinician may give you medicine for a stuffy nose or cough. Use the medicines exactly as instructed. If antibiotics have been prescribed, take them until they are gone.
  8. If a culture is done for your sore throat and the results are positive, someone at the Health Center will call or send a secure message. Please be sure to provide your correct phone number and email address.
  9. If you are not better in 4-5 days, or if you start running a high fever, please return to the Health Center for further evaluation and treatment.