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Linfield College

Self Care and Other Topics

The "Cold" Facts

A Cold

Runny nose, sneezing, sore or scratchy throat, hoarseness, cough, general malaise, muscle aches, and pains, and occasional low-grade fever are some of the discomforts of a cold. A cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. Colds are transmitted through coughing, sneezing or hand contact with infected surfaces A person is contagious from 2-3 days before symptoms occur until fever is gone. Secondary infections are usually indicated by pain, fever over 101 F, excessive coughing or prolonged symptoms. It is normal for symptoms to last 2 weeks. There is no medication to cure colds currently available.

Treatment: (to prevent secondary infections and complications)

  • Wash your hands often to prevent transmission to others

  • Gargle with warm salt water 3 times/day

  • Drink extra liquids

  • SLEEP, so your body can recover

  • Steam can relieve nasal congestion

  • Cough drops, hard candies and hot drinks can relieve cough

  • Acetaminophen can relieve aching

  • Over-the-counter decongestants can help

Allergies Vs. Colds and Flu

Allergies are the body’s reaction to the presence of allergens (pollens, dust, molds, animal hair, smoke, etc.) The immune system responds by releasing histamines and other inflammation-causing chemicals in an attempt to rid the body of allergens. Symptoms include watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, rashes, itching. Fever does not usually accompany allergies.

  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat are characteristics of allergies. Fever, sore throat, muscle aches are characteristic of upper respiratory infections.

  • Allergy symptoms usually disappear when treated with antihistamines while fever, sore throat will not be affected.

  • Allergy symptoms are usually worse in the morning during the spring and summer when pollen counts are high.

  • Upper respiratory infections are usually gone in about 14 days. Allergies linger longer.

When should you get medical advice?

Many illness start out with the same symptoms as colds and flu. If you have any of the following symptoms, have your health evaluated at the Health Center or another medical facility:

  • Fever over 101 F for 24 hours

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Sore throat lasting more than 4 days with gargling

  • Ear ache

  • A cough which produces mucous, lasts for more than a week and makes it hard to breathe

  • Anything else that doesn’t seem right


  • Wash your hands frequently; between classes, before you eat, if you have been around others who are sick. Avoid touching your hands to your face. Washing your hands may be your best prevention against bacteria and viruses!

  • SLEEP! Sleep is the time your body uses to recover from the day and get ready for what the next day has to offer. If you are sleep deprived, you put yourself at higher risk for getting sick.

  • Eat a well balanced diet.

  • Maintain a regular exercise program.

  • Keep your distance from others who are sick.

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking lowers resistance to all respiratory infections.