Helpful Hints for Dealing with Congestion, Sore Throat, and/or Cough
Viruses are the cause of the “Common Cold” and the vast majority of Upper Respiratory Infections-URI’s. The symptoms can last from 2 days to 2 weeks, but most last about 1 week. The symptoms are self-limiting, which means they will resolve on their own without any treatment. Occasionally, the virus may cause fever, headache, body aches, fatigue or weakness. Antibiotics do NOT treat viruses. Patience, fluids, OTC medications and time is generally all that is needed.
- Drink plenty of fluids! – Fluids help to thin the mucus and encourage drainage from a “stopped-up” nose
- Increase the humidity in your environment – showers, humidifiers, hot soup and warm beverages
- Get plenty of rest – limit your activities as best you can
- Sleep with your shoulders, neck and head elevated – this will help you breathe a little easier at night
- Saline nasal spray will help clear and decrease swelling in nasal passages
- Try over-the-counter (OTC) medications specific to your symptoms – these medications will not shorten the length of the illness but may provide some temporary relief from the symptoms. Decongestants, antihistamines and expectorants such as Tylenol Cold products, Dayquil, Nyquil, Sudafed Nondrying, Claritin , and Mucinex may be helpful. Regular Tylenol or Advil will help with body aches and fever.
- Clear to lightly colored mucus, especially in the morning or evening, is very common with viral infections
For sore throat
- Gargle with warm salt water (½ teaspoon of salt per 6-8 oz. glass of warm water ) will help soothe your throat
- Hard candy and/or throat lozenges or sprays may help with throat pain/irritation
- Tylenol or Advil may provide some relief
- Eating small amounts of food frequently will help clear the postnasal mucus from the back of your throat
- Use OTC cough suppressants sparingly. Expectorants (guaifenesin) are helpful in “breaking up” a cough. Coughing is the body’s attempt to clear the breathing passages.
- Totally suppressing the cough may lead to lung infections.
Seek Medical Help If:
- Fever of 101 or over for two or more days
- Severe sore throat and fever only, for longer than 2 days
- Breathing is difficult or painful or if you are wheezing
- Symptoms last longer than 2 weeks
Helpful Hints for Dealing with Nausea, Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
Viruses are the usual cause of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These illnesses are usually self-limiting; which means the symptoms will resolve on their own in a few days. Occasionally, these viruses may also cause headaches, body aches and fever.
For nausea and vomiting:
- Don’t try to eat anything while you are vomiting frequently.
- Try SIPS of clear liquids only.
- Examples of clear liquids are: ice, water, soft drinks, tea, Kool-Aid, ice popsicles, sports drinks, Jell-O. Avoid alcohol while ill.
- If you are doing well with sips, try to start drinking larger amounts frequently. It is important to try to replace the fluids you have lost through vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- When you are tolerating fluids well and have not had any vomiting for at least 8 hrs. You can try the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. (No gravy, butter or jelly, please!) You can also try plain bagels, saltine crackers and baked potatoes. No cream soups, meats, vegetables or salads.
- When you are doing well on the BRAT diet for at least 24 hrs., you can gradually begin eating a regular diet. You should avoid any dairy products and fried foods for another day or so.
- You may try over-the-counter medications, such as; Bonine or Dramamine Less Drowsy (active ingredient: meclizine 25 mg.) every 6-8 hours as needed for nausea. Tylenol is a good choice for fever or aches because it is gentle on the stomach.
- Follow the clear liquid diet as long as you are having frequent watery stools. Beware – sometimes sugar and caffeine may make diarrhea worse.
- As stools began occurring less frequently, you can try the BRAT diet. (See above)
- When stools become soft and formed, you can gradually return to a regular diet. You should avoid dairy products and high roughage foods, such as bran, whole grains and salad for a few more days.
- You may try over-the-counter medications, such as Immodium AD or Kaopectate. Be sure to follow the instructions on the box carefully.
Seek Medical Help If:
- Symptoms do not improve in 24-48 hours.
- Increasing weakness, dizziness or passing out.
- Unable to tolerate sips of fluids for over 12 hours.
- Blood in vomitus or stools.
- Severe abdominal pain for more than 4 straight hours.
- Fever of 101 F or above for more than 24 hours.
- Urine becomes dark or no urination for 12 hours or longer.
- If you have diabetes or other medical condition(s) that require daily medications.
Can you tell the difference between symptoms of the flu and the common cold?
Flu symptoms typically come on suddenly and include fever, aches, chills, and tiredness – but how do they differ from cold symptoms?
Cold & Flu Symptoms Chart
|Fever is rare with a cold.
|Fever is usually present with the flu in up to
80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100
degrees Fahrenheit or higher for 3-4 days is
associated with the flu.
|A hacking, productive (mucous producing) cough.
Is often present with a cold.
|A non-productive (non-mucous forming) cough
is usually present with the flu (sometimes
referred to as a dry cough).
|Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.
|Severe body aches and pains are common
with the flu.
|Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and
typically resolves spontaneously within a week.
|Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.
|Chills are uncommon with a cold.
|60% of people who have the flu experience
|Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.
|Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.
|Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.
|Sneezing is not common with the flu.
|Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.
|The flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu
hits hard and includes sudden symptoms
like high fever, aches, and pains.
|A headache is fairly uncommon with the cold.
|A headache is very common with the flu,
present in 80% of flu cases.
|Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.
|Sore throat is not commonly present with the
|Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.
|Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.
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Health Services has a limited pharmacy that can dispense medications for short-term needs.
If you have prescriptions you take on a monthly basis, you are able to have them filled at the following locations. These pharmacies are nearby, within walking distance or can be accessed on the UNC Asheville shuttle route.
- CVS Pharmacy, 612 Merrimon Avenue 828.253.4350
- The Medicine Shoppe, 760 Merrimon Avenue 828.255.8757
- Walgreens Pharmacy, 841 Merrimon Avenue 828.225.5113
- Rite Aid, 846 Merrimon Avenue 828.252.1866
- Ingles Pharmacy, 915 Merrimon Avenue 828.255.8949
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