Health Services

Commom Cold

What is the common cold?
The common cold is a contagious viral infection of the head and chest. The nose, throat, sinuses, ears, eustachian tubes, trachea, larynx, and bronchial tubes may be involved.

There are over 200 viruses that cause the common cold. Cold viruses are spread through the air from coughing or sneezing or from person-to-person contact, especially handshaking.


Symptoms include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Soar throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Watering eyes
  • Appetite loss


  • Avoid strenuous physical activity and get plenty of rest.
  • Drink extra fluids, including water, fruit juice, tea and carbonated beverages.
  • Use home-made nose drops for nasal congestion (1 teaspoon salt to 1 quart of water).
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier.
  • Use non-prescription medicine to relieve symptoms, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil), decongestants (Sudafed), cough remedies and throat lozenges.

Neither antibiotics nor non-prescription medicines will cure the common cold.

Call Health Services if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Temperature of 101°F
  • Shaking chills
  • Skin rash
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Earache or headache
  • Pain in the teeth or sinuses
  • Unusual fatigue
  • White or yellow spots on tonsils or throat
  • Severe cough or a cough that lasts more than 10 days

Common Cold, Influenza & Pneumonia

The Common Cold




Runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, difficulty breathing through nose, cough.
Adults may have a slight fever, while infants and children may develop a higher temperature.
Sudden onset of headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, and an overall lousy feeling.
Symptoms vary from gradual to sudden onset, but normally include: fever that may become as high as 105°, occasional headache, chills or sweats, weakness, severe chest pain and a cough that produces rust colored or greenish mucus. Lips and nailbeds may be blue.
Upper respiratory infection such as sinus or ear infections or bronchitis.
In patients with asthma, it can worsen during a cold. Reye's Syndrome if aspirin is used in children.
Profound weakness, especially in the elderly.
Reye's Syndrome if aspirin is used in children.
Can be life threatening, especially for elderly or debilitated individuals.
Weakness can continue for an extended time.

What to do?

Drink plenty of water or juices and get as much rest as possible. Treat fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Avoid aspirin, especially for younger children due to the potential danger of Reye's Syndrome.
Cold-like symptoms can be relieved by taking antihistamines or decongestants.
Anti-viral medication may help speed recovery some, but your best choice is to get a vaccination to prevent the flu. These products must be prescribed by your physician.
Acetaminophen can be used to relieve aches and fever.
Non-prescription remedies can be used for combination symptoms.
Bed rest and increased fluid intake.
Avoid aspirin, especially for younger children due to the potential danger of Reye's Syndrome.
Pneumonia may occur after a bout of the flu.
Call your doctor immediately. Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics.
Oxygen may also be needed.
Drink fluids and get plenty of rest.


Avoid contact with people who have a cold, especially the first three days when they are more likely to spread infection.
Wash your hands frequently, especially after you cough or sneeze.
Keep your fingers away from your nose, eyes and mouth.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Get a flu vaccine (best when received from early October to Mid-November).
Pneumonia vaccine.