Health Services

Common Illnesses

Information and education regarding common illnesses is available at College Health Services. Testing and referrals are also available at the office, and all treatment performed by the Health Service staff is confidential.

For more information, contact College Health Services at (518) 629-7468 or email

A scratchy throat, stuffy nose, head congestion, coughing, mild tiredness and headache usually characterize the common cold, which lasts 10 to 14 days and is contagious during that time. To avoid catching colds, wash your hands often and refrain from putting them near your face.

There is no cure for the common cold, but prescriptions available at College Health Services, and over-the-counter medications found at pharmacies, will alleviate symptoms. Most of these medications have side effects.

The best treatments are acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a headache and fluids to relieve a dry, hacking cough. Cough medicine is not usually recommended for colds and antibiotics are not used to treat the common cold. If a cough produces thick mucus or blood, or if fever, shortness of breath or chest pain develops, seek assistance from a health care provider.

Flu symptoms are more severe than those caused by the common cold. The symptoms include extreme tiredness and achiness, fever and chills, sore throat, runny nose, head congestion and cough. Flu, or influenza, can often be successfully treated by medication, but is easier to prevent the flu through immunization than it is to treat it.

Anyone experiencing flu symptoms should visit a physician as soon as possible. If antiviral medications are appropriate treatment, they must be administered within the first 48 hours of illness. A health care provider should be consulted if fever or cough worsens, if chest pain or shortness of breath is experienced, or if coughing produces thick mucus. More information on the flu.

Sore Throat
A sore throat is often related to a common cold, or is viral in nature. In these instances, antibiotics are not the answer. Treatment should include rest, gargling with salt and water (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water), and lozenges. A higher fever and general illness usually identify strep throat, which is treated with an antibiotic. A throat culture will help medical experts decide if antibiotics are appropriate.

Vomiting and Diarrhea
Diarrhea is defined as frequent watery bowel movements that are often accompanied by abdominal cramps. Typically, the worst of these symptoms pass within 24 to 48 hours. While affected with diarrhea, you should eat very little, but fluids are important.

Adhere to a diet of liquids, preferably flat ginger ale and water, at first. Also try to drink Gator Aid and other sports drinks. After 12 to 24 hours, expand your diet as tolerated. Begin with soups, and move to other easily digested foods. Avoid greasy and fried foods for a few days. Generally, over-the-counter medications should be avoided. Consult a health care provider if diarrhea is severe, is accompanied by abdominal pain, lasts longer than 48 hours or if there is blood in the bowel movements.

Vomiting sometimes accompanies diarrhea. If the vomiting is severe, if it's black in color or has blood in it, or if abdominal pain is severe, a health care provider should be consulted immediately.