Cold and flu viruses spread mainly when someone who has a cold or the flu coughs or sneezes, potentially propelling virus-laden respiratory droplets several feet through the air. You can become infected by inhaling these droplets or by touching a surface that has been contaminated by these droplets (like a desk, doorknob or keyboard) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
How to Avoid Getting Colds and Flu
Get a flu shot every fall.
Keep your hands clean. Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and use it often. See The proper way to wash your hands below.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve. When you use a tissue, throw it in the trash immediately.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Don't eat, drink, or smoke after others.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially if they have fever, cough, and a sore throat.
Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
Help prevent the flu. Print and post as many flyers or posters as you need to remind Longhorn students, faculty and staff what they can do to stop germs.
Flu Symptoms / What to do if you think you have the flu.
If you're a UT student and have flu symptoms,
When UHS is open (8am – 5pm weekdays) call 512-471-4955 to schedule an appointment.
When UHS is closed
If you want to be evaluated to get anti-viral medication, and it will be more than 48 hours after your symptoms began before you can get a UHS appointment (e.g. UHS is closed for the weekend), please go to an off-campus urgent care clinic.
If you want to know whether your symptoms are consistent with the flu and/or how to care for yourself at home – call the After-hours Nurse Advice Line at (512) 475-6877. NOTE: After-hours nurses cannot prescribe anti-viral medication AND cannot schedule an appointment for you.
The symptoms of influenza generally include:
Fever greater than 100° F
Runny or stuffy nose
Illnesses with a lot of nasal congestion and mild fever are probably not the flu. People may have only one or two symptoms besides a fever, or they may have many.
Most people who have the flu recover without needing medical treatment. But serious complications like pneumonia can occur and may be more likely in certain people such as those who:
are age 65 or older;
have a chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except high blood pressure alone), kidney, liver, blood (including sickle cell disease) or metabolic (including diabetes) disorder and/or a neurological disorder (including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscles such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, stroke)
have a suppressed immune system, including that caused by medications or HIV infection;
are pregnant or within 2 weeks after delivery;
are age 19 or younger and are on long-term aspirin therapy; and/or
are morbidly obese (body-mass index of 40 or greater)
Stay home or in your room and limit contact with others, except to get medical care if needed.
Get lots of rest.
Drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids (such as water, juice, tea, sports drinks) to prevent dehydration.
Eat well balanced, nutritious foods.
Ask a friend to bring you food to limit your contact with others.
If you live in a residence hall, ask your RA how you can have meals delivered to your room.
Monitor your temperature. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without having to use fever-reducing medications.
Ease your symptoms with over-the-counter medications and the home remedies, on the chart below.
Medical Treatment of the Flu
Antibiotics aren't effective against the flu. The flu is caused by viruses, and antibiotics don't kill viruses. However, if a secondary bacterial infection develops because of the flu (e.g. pneumonia, bronchitis, a serious sinus infection, etc.), a healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics for the bacterial infection.
Some prescription anti-viral drugs can help reduce the severity and duration of the flu if started within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms.
To get help determining whether your flu symptoms need medical attention or if you can care for them at home, call the UHS UHS Nurse Advice Line at (512) 475-6877.
Your body needs energy to fight off infection, so getting enough rest may help speed your recovery time.
Avoid close contact
When someone with a cold or the flu coughs or sneezes, viruses can travel up to six feet through the air.
Drink lots of fluids
Drinking plenty of non-caffeinated beverages (water, juice, teas, and sports drinks) prevents dehydration and loosen mucus, which can ease congestion and make coughing productive.
Humidifiers or shower steam
Warm, moist air can relieve congestion and make it easier to breathe.
Instead of a handkerchief, use disposable tissues. Don't lay used tissues on surfaces like a desk or nightstand. Toss them directly into a wastebasket to avoid spreading the virus.
Chicken soup contains a mucus-thinning amino acid called cysteine. Some research shows that chicken soup may help control congestion-causing cells called neutrophils.
Hot liquids help thin mucous and loosen congestion. Some hot liquids can soothe a sore throat.
Saline nasal spray/wash
Use a saline nasal spray or wash to help break down sinus congestion and remove virus particles and bacterial from your nasal passages. You can buy them in any drugstore or make your own saline wash to use with a neti pot.
Warm salt water gargle
Gargling with warm salt water can moisten a sore or scratchy throat and temporarily relieve pain. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water four times daily. (Don't swallow the salt water, but spit it out.)
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever , sore throat, body aches*
To reduce pain and discomfort so you can rest.
For sinus congestion that keeps you from getting enough rest when the above suggestions do not help.
Cough drops, expectorant*
If coughing keeps you from getting enough rest.
*CAUTION - Many cold and cough medicines contain acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check the active ingredients and take no more than one medicine containing acetaminophen at a time. Ask a pharmacist to help you find the right medication.
University Health Services is committed to providing high-quality care to patients of all ages, races, ethnicities, physical abilities or attributes, religions, sexual orientations or gender identities/expression.
University Health Services is committed to providing high-quality care to patients of all ages, races, ethnicities, physical abilities or attributes, religions, sexual orientations, or gender identities/expression.