You are here: Treating Cold Symptoms

Feeling Sick?

If you recently developed cold symptoms there are some helpful treatments that can be done at home prior to coming in for a visit.

Most common cold (a.k.a. “upper respiratory infection” or URI) symptoms should not be treated with antibiotics. If you think that you have a URI, here is a list of some common symptoms and possible remedies you can do at home:

Symptom Treatment
  • Acetampinophen (eg. Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (eg. Motrin or Advil)
  • Increase clear liquid intake
Body Aches
  • Acetampinophen
  • Ibuprofen
Sore Throat
  • Acetampinophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Salt water gargles
  • Throat lozenges
  • Chloraseptic throat spray/drops
  • Sip on warm liquids like tea
Nasal Congestion
  • Decongestant- Pseudoephedrine or Phenylephrine HCl. These medications can be found in a combination medication or alone in medications such as Sudafed. Remember, these medications may increase your heart rate or cause insomnia.
  • Saline nasal rinse or spray such as a Neti Pot
    Over the counter Afrin- This can be used for a short duration for relief. It should not be used for more than 3 days.
  • Humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
Runny Nose
  • Antihistamines- Consider a non-drowsy medication like Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra.
  • Overnight, a more sedating medication such as Benadryl or Chlorpheniramine may be helpful, but some students find that they are still fatigued the next day! These medications are also often in a multi-symptom medication.
  • Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant- common names include Delsym, Robitussin, and can be found in Mucinex DM or many multi-symptom medications.
  • Guaifenesin is an expectorant. Most commonly seen as Mucinex.

Most of these symptoms are caused by a virus that will resolve in 5-7 days. If your symptoms are not improving after 10 days or are worsening after 5 days, then it is important to make an appointment at the Student Health Center for an evaluation.

WATCH OUT! - Many commercial cold and flu remedies contain a combination of different medicines. Read the ingredients to make sure that you are not “doubling up” on the amount of medication you should be taking. If you have any questions, ask the pharmacist.