Cold and Flu Self-Care

Icon of a person coughing or sneezing on another person

For the majority of respiratory illnesses, self-treatment is all that is required.

General Tips for Feeling Better

  • Have personal care items available such as hand sanitizer, tissues, over-the-counter medicines, a thermometer and fluids.
  • Let a friend or family member know that you are sick and ask them to check on you.
  • Increase your fluid intake. Drinking more fluids will help you stay hydrated and control your fever. Recommended fluids are water, sports drinks such as Gatorade, and clear broth soups.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others until 24 hours after your fever has gone away (without the use of fever-reducing medications.) Your temperagure should be below 100 degress F for at least 24 hours.


Learn how to take your temperature.

Back to top

Treating Your Symptoms

There are many over-the-counter medicines to help you treat your symptoms. You can buy them from Student Health Services or any grocery store.


Before taking any medication:

  • Always read the labels carefully;
  • Check the list of ingredients for substances you may be allergic to;
  • Be aware of any side effects; and
  • Use the medicine ONLY as directed.

Get smart: what you should know about antibiotic resistance


Student Health Services' pharmacy has cold and flu kits available for purchase for $7.


Fever, Headache, Muscle Aches, Fatigue

  • Use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aleve, or Tylenol) to reduce fever and pain.


  • Use decongestants with pseudoephedrine as the active ingredient.
  • Inhale steam to ease your congestion by holding your head over a pot of boiling water and breathe through your nose or taking a steamy shower.
  • Use saline nasal sprays or room humidifiers.

Coughing and Sneezing

  • Antihistamines such as DimeTapp, Singlet, Benadryl, NyQuil are the most effective for treating cough and sneezing.
  • Less effective, but still useful, are Claritin and Allegra.

Sore Throat

  • Keep a throat lozenge, cough drop or hard candy in your moth. It will stimulate your saliva and help sooth your throat.
  • Gargle warm salt water (1/4 teaspon of salt with 8 ounces of water) and spit it out.

Back to top