University Health Service (UHS)
Health Promotion Office
If you are diagnosed as having an illness caused by a virus, you will not be given an antibiotic. Antibiotic treatment does not cure viral infections and, in fact, may be harmful if given when not needed. Most viral infections last 7-10 days. The treatments below will help you feel better while your body's own defenses are combating the virus.
- Rest until you feel in better health. Getting 8-10 hours of sleep when you are sick is helpful.
- Drink at least four 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
- Gargle to soothe a sore throat. A gargle can be made with 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Sore throats can also be soothed with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges.
- Use a cool mist humidifier to relieve congestion and moisten dry mucous membranes. Use a Steam Vaporizer to promote drainage of nasal sinuses.
- If not improved in 7 days, a new symptom occurs, or you have concerns, call UHS at 585-275-2662 for a re-check.
Over-the-counter Medications (OTCs)
Cold and flu medications relieve symptoms but do not actually kill viruses. Although you cannot kill a virus, you can take medications that will help you feel better, such as:
- Petroleum jelly or skin lotion can ease chapped nose or lips.
- Lozenges or cough drops may soothe a sore or dry throat.
- Pain relievers (e.g., acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen) relieve head and body aches, sore throats, and fever. If a fever is mild, bringing it down is not needed; a mild fever is one of the body's ways to kill the virus and is not dangerous. Children and teenagers should not take aspirin since it can cause Reye's Syndrome, a rare but often fatal condition.
- Oral decongestants can help relieve a stuffy nose, ear congestion, or popping in ears.
- Nasal decongestants (nose sprays or drops) can relieve a stuffy nose. They should be used sparingly and not more than 3 days because of rebound swelling.
- Nasal saline (salt solution) will help break up thick mucus blocking the nose & sinuses.
- Cough syrups should be used only for certain kinds of coughs. If your cough is wet and productive, try sucking on hard candies or drinking something hot. Do not use a cough suppressant. For a dry, hacking cough, try a cough suppressant with expectorant to loosen up the mucus and ease your discomfort.
- Use medication as directed by your health care professional or the package instructions.
- Never take left over or old antibiotics
- Antibiotics do not kill cold or flu viruses, or help aches, pains, or fever.