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Colds & Flu

A Cold

Runny nose, sneezing, sore or scratchy throat, hoarseness, cough, general malaise, muscle aches, and pains, and occasional low-grade fever are some of the discomforts of a cold. A cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. Colds are transmitted through coughing, sneezing or hand contact with infected surfaces A person is contagious from 2-3 days before symptoms occur until fever is gone. Secondary infections are usually indicated by pain, fever over 101 F, excessive coughing or prolonged symptoms. It is normal for symptoms to last 2 weeks. There is no medication to cure colds currently available.

Treatment: (to prevent secondary infections and complications)

  • Wash your hands often to prevent transmission to others
  • Gargle with warm salt water 3 times/day
  • Drink extra liquids
  • SLEEP, so your body can recover
  • Steam can relieve nasal congestion
  • Cough drops, hard candies and hot drinks can relieve cough
  • Acetaminophen can relieve aching
  • Over-the-counter decongestants can help

Allergies Vs. Colds and Flu

Allergies are the body’s reaction to the presence of allergens (pollens, dust, molds, animal hair, smoke, etc.) The immune system responds by releasing histamines and other inflammation-causing chemicals in an attempt to rid the body of allergens. Symptoms include watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, rashes, itching. Fever does not usually accompany allergies.

  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat are characteristics of allergies. Fever, sore throat, muscle aches are characteristic of upper respiratory infections.
  • Allergy symptoms usually disappear when treated with antihistamines while fever, sore throat will not be affected.
  • Allergy symptoms are usually worse in the morning during the spring and summer when pollen counts are high.
  • Upper respiratory infections are usually gone in about 14 days. Allergies linger longer.

When should you get medical advice?

Many illness start out with the same symptoms as colds and flu. If you have any of the following symptoms, have your health evaluated at the Health Center or another medical facility:

  • Fever over 101 F for 24 hours
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat lasting more than 4 days with gargling
  • Ear ache
  • A cough which produces mucous, lasts for more than a week and makes it hard to breathe
  • Anything else that doesn't seem right


  • Wash your hands frequently; between classes, before you eat, if you have been around others who are sick. Avoid touching your hands to your face. Washing your hands may be your best prevention against bacteria and viruses!
  • SLEEP! Sleep is the time your body uses to recover from the day and get ready for what the next day has to offer. If you are sleep deprived, you put yourself at higher risk for getting sick.
  • Eat a well balanced diet.
  • Maintain a regular exercise program.
  • Keep your distance from others who are sick.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking lowers resistance to all respiratory infections.


Each of us plays a critical role in keeping our campus safe and healthy. Students and employees are encouraged to use these FAQs and other resources on the Student Health, Wellness, and Counseling Center (SHWCC) web site to learn how to prevent the spread of the influenza virus, what to do if you are ill, and who to contact for assistance.

If you have questions not addressed by these FAQs, please email questions to or contact the SHWCC at 503-883-2535 or your personal health care provider.

  • How can I prevent the spread of influenza?

    The best prevention for all types of influenza is to receive influenza immunizations (see “Immunizations” below).  In addition, adopt these effective preventative measures:

    • Wash hands frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing.  Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and warm water are unavailable.
    • Sanitize hard surfaces such as tables, desks, and door knobs frequently. You can use household disinfecting wipes or spray disinfectants that kill bacteria and viruses.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands.
    • Practice social distancing by avoiding large groups and contact with people who are ill.
    • Stay home when you are ill – protecting others and taking care of yourself. Contact your professors to coordinate missed work.
    • Try to avoid close contact with people who are ill.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Should I get immunized?

    Yes, the best prevention of influenza is to receive influenza immunizations. 

    Influenza immunizations are available from the SHWCC on the McMinnville campus, and from your personal health care provider or local urgent care clinic. Immunizations are available to students, faculty and staff, and dependents ages 18 and older.  

  • How can I tell if I have influenza?

    Symptoms of the influenza virus include a sudden onset of fever or chills AND a cough or sore throat.  Symptoms may also include a runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting.

  • Where can I go if I think I might have influenza?

    • Please contact the SHWCC at 503-883-2535 in Walker 103, Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM to noon, and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
    • After hours, students may contact the Physicians Medical Center at 503-472-6161, or
    • McMinnville Immediate Care at 503-435-1077, or
    • Willamette Valley Medical Center (hospital) at 503-472-6131.
  • What should I do if I get sick with influenza?

    Ill students are advised to stay home (or in their residence hall rooms) for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides (without use of fever-reducing medicine).

    Individuals who are ill with influenza should not leave their homes or residence hall rooms except to get medical care.

    Students with a fever should not return to classes or public areas until their temperature has returned to near normal for at least 24 hours. Do seek medical attention if your condition worsens.

    Notify your health care provider or SHWCC at 503-883-2535 early in the course of the illness.

    There are antiviral medications which may help, but need to be started within two days of developing symptoms.

    Avoid Contact with Others

    If you do leave your house or residence hall room while you are contagious in order to obtain medical care, it is advisable to wear a facemask to prevent the spread of the virus.  Facemasks are available to students from their Resident Advisors.  In general, you should avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness, especially to people at increased risk of severe illness from influenza.

  • How can I protect myself and my community?

    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
    • Use alcohol-based hand cleaners if soap and water are unavailable. (It’s effective, but not as effective as hand-washing.)
    • If you are sick and share a common space with others, wear a facemask.  Facemasks are available to students from their Resident Advisors
  • Who should I contact if I have been diagnosed with influenza?

    • Please contact the SHWCC at 503-883-2535, even if you go to a health care provider off-campus. Contacting the SHWCC will help us monitor the flu on campus.
    • Please contact your professors and coaches to notify them IF YOU ARE diagnosed with the flu and will miss classes, practices, or games.  
    • Notify your RA if you live on-campus via e-mail or phone.  
  • What should I do if my roommate has influenza?

    Contact your RA to get disinfectant materials to reduce germs in your room. It is important to disinfect shared surfaces often, such as computers, tables, and door knobs. Continue to practice preventative actions such as washing your hands frequently and proper cough etiquette (coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands). Roommates should consider wearing a mask when around the ill person. Roommates should call the SHWCC at 503-883-2535 or their primary care provider, to be evaluated for preventive medication.

  • What services are provided to students who have influenza or a flu-like illness?

    The SHWCC can evaluate, test and prescribe medications and give appropriate self-care information to students with flu symptoms. The SHWCC has a supply of facemasks to help prevent the spread of germs.

    Disinfectant supplies such as spray cleaner and hand sanitizer are available on campus. Students in residence halls can ask their Resident Advisor for cleaning materials for their rooms.  RAs also have Care Kits for students who have influenza or flu-like symptoms. Contact your RA for a care kit.

    Food service will be available for on-campus students who are sick with the flu. If you are self-isolating, contact your RA, GRD, or AD via e-mail or phone. Then, designate a roommate or other person who can pick up a one-day meal pack at Dillin and bring it back to you in your room. Be prepared to give them your name, ID number, and any dietary restrictions. Dining Services will make meal packets good for one day.