Student Wellness Services  /  Health  /  Cough and Cold Care Tips

Cough and Cold Care Tips

April 04, 2023

Infographic of cold vs. flu symptoms

NOTE: The information provided on this page is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or emergency treatment. You should not use any information on this page to diagnose or develop a treatment plan for a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care provider.

Non-medication treatment for your cough or cold

Contact Student Health Services if you experience any of the following:

  • High fever (Temperature > 101°F for > 72 hrs)
  • Ear pain
  • Sinus-type headache
  • Unusually severe cold symptoms
  • Cough that gets worse while other cold symptoms improve
  • Flare-up of any chronic lung problem, such as asthma
  • No improvement in symptoms for more than 10 days

Recommended non-prescription medications by symptom

Available at your local pharmacy; some of these are also available in the Cold Care Kits found in your building, at Red Door, and at the vending machine on the 2nd floor of Hameetman.

Contact Student Health Services with any questions or concerns about medications: (626) 395-6393

Cough, Non-productive (not coughing up phlegm)

  • Cough suppressant containing dextromethorphan (Robitussin® DM or Delsym®)
    • This should be used primarily at night to decrease cough so you can sleep

Cough, Productive (coughing up phlegm)

  • Expectorant: Mucinex® tablets or plain guaifenesin syrup, also known as Robitussin®
    • Take at least 600 mg of the active ingredient guaifenesin, twice a day
    • This thins the mucus so it's easier to cough up the mucus

Fever/Headache/Muscle Aches

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
    • You can take up to 500-650mg every 4-6 hours
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®)
    • You can take up to 600-800mg every 8 hours

Nasal Stuffiness

  • Saline nasal spray or a Neti Pot
  • Nasal steroid sprays: Flonase® or Nasacort®
  • Decongestant: Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®)
    • Prolonged use > 3days can worsen symptoms

Runny and/or Itchy Nose/Sneezing

  • Nasal steroid sprays: Flonase® or Nasacort®
  • Antihistamine: Benadryl®, which will likely cause drowsiness
  • Loratadine (Alavert®), which is not as likely to cause drowsiness

Sore Throat Pain Relief

  • Try throat sprays (Chloraseptic®)

Cold remedies that don't work

The list of ineffective cold remedies is long. Some of the more common ones that don't work include:

  • Antibiotics. These attack bacteria, but they're no help against cold viruses. Avoid asking your doctor for antibiotics for a cold or using old antibiotics you have on hand. You won't get well any faster, and inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the serious and growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Take care of yourself

Although usually minor, colds can make you feel miserable. It's tempting to try the latest remedy, but the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. Rest, drink fluids, and keep the air around you moist. Remember to wash your hands frequently.

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