Self-care for colds

woman on couch with a cold

The “common” cold can be caused by over 200 viruses. Since there’s no cure, focus on alleviating your symptoms. They usually last between a week and 10 days and include:

  • Sore throat, cough
  • Stuffy nose, sneezing, swelling of the sinuses
  • Headache, fatigue

Here are some ways to reduce the discomfort of a cold:

  • Drink plenty of liquids and rest/sleep.
  • Relieve a scratchy throat by gargling warm salt water and/or using throat lozenges.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®), or naproxen sodium (Aleve®).
  • Use a decongestant to alleviate sinus pressure and a stuffy nose. A steamy shower can also help.

Save money on medicines with generic versions, which have the same active ingredients as name-brands. A fever is uncommon with adult colds, so if you experience one over 100 degrees F, very swollen glands, severe sinus pain, or a cough that produces mucus, contact your school’s health center.