Self-Help for Common Illnesses

Educating students about common illnesses, their prevention, and the most appropriate treatment is one of the primary goals of our Registered Nurses in college health. If you are ill, please come to Health Services promptly to make an appointment for treatment. If you are ill on the weekend or in the evening, please see our listing of off-campus wellness resources.

COLDS and FLU

The most common illnesses that bring students to Health Services are upper respiratory infections or URIs. Our nurses are able to assess "URIs," instruct students about available non-prescription medication, and self help care. We will refer you to our Nurse Practitioner or your primary care physician as needed.

Is It Just A Cold?
  • Sneezing
  • Scratchy/sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Clear discharge when blowing your nose
  • Ears feel full
  • Dry cough or clear mucus
  • Tired; Feel better in 7-10 days
  • Temp (99°-101°)
Or More Than A Cold:
  • Stiff neck, skin rash, or light sensitivity
  • Sore throat with fever
  • White patches back of throat
  • Pain around eyes
  • Discolored or persistent nasal discharge
  • Ear pain or drainage
  • Painful or difficult breathing
  • Cough with colored mucus
  • Severe pain/muscle aches
  • Tired/ no improvement
  • Fever > 101° over 2 days

Colds and Flus are VIRAL INFECTIONS. The best treatment is to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and get symptomatic treatment under the direction of a health care provider.

  • Antibiotic treatments do not cure viral infections.
  • Antibiotics given when not needed may be harmful.
  • Antibiotics do not kill cold or flu viruses or help aches, pain, or fever.

It is possible to get a bacterial infection during or after a viral infection. This can be diagnosed by our Nurse Practitioner or your primary health care provider.

  • If an antibiotic is prescribed for a bacterial infection, use this medication as directed and by the package instructions. Complete all antibiotics even if you are feeling better or all symptoms have disappeared.
  • Never take left over or old antibiotics or use anyone else's prescription.
  • Be aware this is a prescribed medication. Read all instructions and be aware of possible side effects.
  • Some antibiotics reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive medication. Use a back-up method of birth control.

FLU VACCINE

Influenza or the "Flu" can cause mild to severe illness that can, in some situations lead to death. Most healthy people recover from the flu without complications, but some people, the very old, very young, and people with certain underlying health conditions, are at high risk for serious complications.

The best way to prevent the flu is by receiving the flu vaccine in the fall or early winter. At times there are shortages of the flu vaccine and supplies are limited to those who the need the vaccine the most. In these situations, an alternative preventive treatment can be requested from your health care provider.

Influenza vaccine is available to students, faculty and staff every Fall semester per the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. The amount of flu vaccine available to Health Services is subject to availability. Date and times for Flu Vaccine clinics will be posted.

If you think you have the flu come to Health Services to make an appointment to see a nurse or if you would like more information on preventing colds and flu, go online to:

VOMITING, UPSET STOMACH, DIARRHEA

Gastrointestinal upsets are a common. Common causes include: viruses, bacteria, parasites, underlying medical conditions, allergies or intolerance, "bad" foods, and diet. Diarrhea is seen frequently in lactose intolerant individuals. Antibiotics can also cause diarrhea also.

Vomiting can have serious consequences and may lead to dehydration unless treated promptly and effectively. Vomiting that is severe or that lasts longer than 24 hours should be evaluated in Health Services or by your health care provider.

Questions to Ask Action to Take
Is vomiting related to alcohol/drug poisoning? This is an emergency, call 911!
Is vomiting from eating too much food or spoiled food? Seek prompt medical treatment.
Has the individual had a head injury? Seek prompt medical treatment.
Is vomiting accompanied by a severe headache? Seek prompt medical treatment.
Is vomiting related to medications such as antibiotics? Seek medical treatment.
Is there a history of motion sickness? Seek medical treatment.
Is your vomiting self-induced? Seek medical treatment.
Are there signs of dehydration such as sunken eyes, loose skin, dark urine or no urination in 12 hours? Seek prompt medical treatment.
Try small sips (a teaspoon at a time) of water, ginger ale, or Gatorade.

Diarrhea that is severe or persistent can lead to complications as well. Seek medical attention for signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, loose skin, dark or no urine) or if diarrhea persists more than 3 or 4 days.

There are several over the counter medications available. You may come to Health Servicesto make an appointment for assessment and treatment. Some common non-prescription medications we can offer include: Imodium or Kaopectate for diarrhea, antacids for acid indigestion and heartburn, Maalox antacid and antigas, and Emetrol for nausea.

Health Information online by category: www.medlineplus.gov; or, go to FamilyDoctor.org.

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