How to Manage Cold, Flu and other Respiratory Symptoms

Oct. 27, 2022

Respiratory virus season is upon us, and no one knows this better than college students. People living in a conjugate setting – people who eat, study, go to class, play sports, and play together, are very susceptible to catching these viruses. In addition, there are always multiple viruses circulating at the same time (e.g., coronaviruses, adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, metapneumoviruses, parainfluenza viruses, Influenza virus).

Upper respiratory tract viruses usually cause a collection of symptoms rather than one singular and severe symptom. These symptoms make people feel miserable, but they will get better as soon as their immune systems get to work to fight the virus! A viral illness typically lasts for 7-10 days, but symptoms like cough can linger for up to four weeks. The collection of symptoms, in varying levels of severity and over differing courses of time, can include:

  • Scratchy throat that can proceed to painful swallowing
  • Congested nose and post-nasal drip
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Cough (dry, wet, and a combination)
  • Phlegm in a variety of colors (none of which accurately differentiates viral from bacterial)
  • Sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses)
  • Fever (typically low grade, between 100 and 102 degrees F, and for no more than 3 days)
  • Fatigue

UHS offers guidance on:

  1. Self-care guidelines.
  2. Recommendations for over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.
  3. Red flags/reasons to call UHS Medical Services for an appointment to be seen.
  4. How we typically differentiate flu from other viruses.
  5. What will happen if you go to a free-standing Urgent Care facility, and suggested questions to ask the provider.

For more information on upper respiratory tract infections and information on preventing illness, see our Health Resource page.