Common Cold


More than 200 different viral strains cause the common cold. Colds are spread by hand-to-hand contact, breathing in the virus, or by touching infected surfaces and transferring the virus to your nose, eyes, or mouth.


Symptoms of a common cold can last for up to 2 weeks. They include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild headache
  • Mild body aches
  • Low grade fever

For information on how symptoms vary for colds, flu, and stomach flu, click here.


Antibiotics do not work for the common cold or other illnesses caused by viruses. Over the counter medications may provide relief for symptoms.

  • Decongestants for nasal congestion
  • Cough suppressants to decrease coughing
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for sore throat, fever, and body aches
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep hydrated
  • Use a humidifier

See a Student Health & Wellness provider if

  • You have a measured temperature higher than 100.4 F
  • Symptoms are present for longer than 10 days

To avoid spreading illness to others

  • Frequent hand washing or hand sanitizer use
  • Keep mouth and nose covered if coughing or sneezing


  • Frequent hand washing or hand sanitizer use
  • Avoid close contact with people who have colds