It’s the start of a new school year, and our Student Health Center has been seeing many students with sore throats, nasal congestion, body aches, ear aches, and other symptoms of the common cold, which is also known as a URI (Upper Respiratory Infection).
There are many factors that contribute to an increase in URI symptoms. The stress of a new school year, coupled with new living arrangements and close quarters, where many other friends live together in the same apartment or dorm room, may increase your susceptibility to catching colds by lowering your resistance to viral infections.
There are more than 200 viruses that attack and multiply in the cells that line the nose and throat. Colds are most commonly spread hand-to-hand. If you touch the hand of an infected person and then touch your face, you are likely to infect yourself with the virus. Touching a hard surface, such as a doorknob, shortly after an infected person has touched it, may also expose you to viruses.
How can you protect yourself?
· Wash your hands often or use Handi-Wipes,
· Get 6-8 hours of sleep at night,
· Eat a balanced diet,
· Don’t over-schedule yourself,
· Avoid prolonged contact with people who have colds,
· Keep your stress level down.
· Get regular exercise.
Treatment Do’s and Don’ts
Every healthy person has an immune system capable of destroying cold viruses and will mount a response with symptoms about 3-4 days after exposure. Most cold-care suggestions are aimed at symptom relief and immune system support.· Don’t treat your cold with an antibiotic.(antibiotics fight bacterial, not viral, infections. Unless your cold has progressed to a secondary bacterial infection, an antibiotic is not only a waste of money but may expose you to side-effects)
· Don’t smoke
· Do drink enough fluids and juices.
· Do gargle with salt water to reduce swelling in your throat.(1/2 tsp table salt in glass of warm water every 4 hours)
· Do get plenty of rest (helps your body fight off the virus)
· Do take Ibuprofen or Tylenol to ease aches and fever.
When should I call for an appointment with my medical provider?
· If your cold persists, or worsens, after 7-10 days,
· Persistent discolored mucus from nasal passages,
· Persistent tenderness around eyes and cheeks, unrelievedwith decongestants,
· Productive cough of colored mucus, and/or associatedwith wheezing or difficulty breathing,
· Red throat with white patches.Please call for an appointment if your cold symptoms persists despite over-the-counter treatment. We will be happy to help you.