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:

  • Sore Throat

  • Hoarseness

  • Cough

  • Fatigue

  • Watering Eyes

  • Appetite Loss

  • Runny or stuffy nose

Cold viruses provoke a massive immune response (sneezing, inflammation, secretions, and so forth), including an increase in certain types of immune cells that, in the course of recovery, may add yellow or greenish color to the discharge.


  • Avoid strenuous physical activity and get plenty of rest.

  • Drink extra fluids, including water, fruit juice, tea, and carbonated beverages.

  • Use saline nasal spray or Afrin, as directed

  • 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 nonprescription medicines will cure the common cold. A recent survey showed that many patients seen in primary care were given a prescription for antibiotics. This is not only a waste of money and resources, but it increases the likelihood that bacterial strains will develop antibiotic resistance. Thus, when you need antibiotics, they may not work. And you are at risk of side effects when taking antibiotics.

Call the Student Health Center 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