Self Care

Cold vs. Flu

If you have cold or flu symptoms and any of the following:

  • A severe headache
  • A chronic medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes
  • An extremely red or persistent sore throat
  • Or, no improvement in 7 days, Seek Medical Care!
Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare Usually High; lasts 3 to 4 days
Cough Hacking Common; can become severe
Chest Discomfort Mild Common; can become severe
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Extreme Exhaustion Never Early and Prominent
Fatigue and Weakness Mild Can last up to 3 weeks
General Aches and Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Headache Rare Prominent

Cold & Flu Treatment

The “common cold” is caused by more than 200 known viruses. Cold symptoms usually resolve in 7-14 days. Influenza originates from viruses also, but cause a more severe respiratory illness. Young children, people with heart, lung, kidney, or immuno-suppressed conditions, and those aged 65 or older have a higher risk of complications which can lead to pneumonia, hospitalization, and even death. The flu vaccine minimizes the dangerous consequences of influenza.

A cold and flu have many of the same symptoms. A cold is generally milder, while the flu tends to be more severe. The flu starts suddenly and hits hard. It usually takes longer to get over the flu than over a cold.

What Can I Take?

  • Antihistamines:   Help dry up a runny nose and relieve sneezing. Avoid them when you are congested. They can make mucus thicker and harder to drain which can make sinus symptoms worse.
  • Decongestants: (Pills or sprays)   Relieves sinus pressure and stuffy nose. Help you breathe easier. Do not use decongestant nose sprays longer than 3 days.
  • Cough Suppressants containing dexromethorphan DM (tablets, lozenges, syrups) help to quiet coughs. Some common psychiatric medications can interact with DM; check with your Pharmacist or health provider before taking.
  • Pain relievers – acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin):   taken as directed help relieve aches headache, fever, and sore throat.

Wash your hands often!  Washing your hands with soap and water helps prevent the spread of colds and flu. Keeping your hands away from your face minimizes your risk of infection. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand wipes and gel sanitizers.

If you have cold or flu symptoms and any of the following:

  • A severe headache
  • A chronic medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes
  • An extremely red or persistent sore throat
  • Or, no improvement in 7 days, Seek Medical Care!

Wondering if you should go to class or to work?

Here’s how to tell whether you are well enough to go to work or class, or if you need to seek medical care.

  • SNEEZING: If you are sneezing, itching, or sniffling – but not achy or feverish, it’s probably allergies.
    GO TO CLASS OR WORK!
  • CHILLS or SWEATS: If you are drenched with sweat, you likely have a fever. When you have a fever,
    DO NOT GO TO CLASS OR WORK! YOU ARE CONTAGIOUS. SEEK MEDICAL CARE!
  • COUGHING: If infrequent and feels like a tickle in the throat or postnasal drip, the cough may be allergies or the common cold. Unless you have other symptoms such as fever or aches
    GO TO CLASS OR WORK!

If your cough is painful, productive, causes wheezing or you feel short of breath -SEEK MEDICAL CARE!

  • PINKEYE: If your eyes are bright red, there’s a discharge, or your eyelashes are getting matted, that is likely pinkeye –WHICH IS HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS DON’T GO TO CLASS OR WORK. SEEK MEDICAL CARE!
  • SINUS PAIN: Pain around eyes, top of forehead, cheekbones, even the top of your teeth, may be a sinus infection or the common cold. CALL IN SICK OR DON’T GO TO CLASS, AND SEEK MEDICAL CARE!
  • EARACHE: If your ear really hurts and you can’t hear well, you may have an ear infection. Ear infections don’t get better on their own.  You’re not contagious, but you need to SEEK MEDICAL CARE!

Treatment Tips

What you can do to feel better: Influenza usually lasts days to about a week. It is commonly associated with fever, cough, body aches, tiredness, sore throat and runny nose or congestion. This year some people have an upset stomach or diarrhea. Simple over-the-counter medications are recommended for treatment.

Fever and aching: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen (Aleve) are all effective when taken regularly as instructed on the bottle. Take care to not take too much acetaminophen as it is found in many combination products. Non-acetaminophen products can be upsetting to your stomach if you are not eating

Sore throat: Throat lozenges (such as Cepacol) or throat sprays can be helpful.

Cough: Guaifenesin DM (Robitussin DM and others with ‘DM’).

Nasal Congestion: Decongestant nasal sprays (Afrin and similar) or Pseudoephedrine (Sudaphed) or Phenyleprine pills. Follow directions on bottle.

Other: Increase fluid intake.

Stay home if you are sick for at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains inbuprofen or acetaminophen).

Stay away from others while sick can prevent others from getting sick too.

Ask a roommate or friend to check up on you and to bring you food and supplies if needed.

If you have severe illness if problems develop or for more information:
call the the Campus Health Center: (575) 234-9291 and ask to speak to a nurse

Prevention

  • Stay informed, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures www.flu.gov
  • Get vaccinated if flu vaccine is available.  Regular seasonal flu vaccination should be available by early October.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough/sneeze and dispose of in waste basket.
  • Wash you hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.

Vaccination Information

The Campus Health Clinic provides immunizations for the following:

  • Tetanus/Diphtheria
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox)
  • Influenza (seasonal)
  • Typhoid
  • HPV (Gardasil)
  • Malaria Prophylaxis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningitis
  • Zostavax (Shingles)
  • Rabies (pre-exposure)
  • Twinrix
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
  • Penumoccoccal (Pneumonia)
  • Polio
  • Yellow Fever

Recommended vaccination groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
  • People between the ages of 6 months and 24 years, and
  • People ages 25-64 years of age who have chronic health conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes) or compromised immune systems
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Self-Help Tips:

  • Drink Lots of Fluids
  • Get Plenty of Rest
  • Eat Chicken Soup (breaks up congestion!)
  • Take a hot shower (relieves cough & congestion)
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Use throat lozenges, hard candies, saline nose sprays, or throat sprays, such as Chloraseptic