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Help! What’s Making Me Sick?

Symptoms Allergies Cold Influenza COVID-19 Strep Throat
Nasal Congestion or Runny Nose Often Often Maybe Often Rarely
Sneezing Often Maybe Maybe Maybe Never
Itchy/Watery Eyes Often Rarely Rarely Rarely Never
Fever Never Maybe Often Maybe Maybe
Fatigue Rarely Maybe Often Maybe Often
Sore Throat Maybe Often Often Maybe Often
Body Aches Never Maybe Often Maybe Often
Headaches Rarely Maybe Often Maybe Often
Cough Maybe Often Often Often Rarely
Vomiting Never Rarely Maybe Maybe Rarely
Loss of Taste/Smell Never Never Never Maybe Never
Shortness of Breath/Difficulty Breathing Never Rarely Rarely Maybe Never
Onset Symptoms begin after exposure to allergen Gets worse over several days Sudden onset Variable Gets worse over several days
Antibiotics Required Never Rarely Rarely Rarely Yes

Summer Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 9am-3pm
Fri, Sat & Sun: Closed
Closed: June 12, July 4

Symptom Control:

General Measures

  • Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever and pain relief. It is helpful to take these products as needed within the first 48-72 hours of illness onset to control symptoms. Take as directed on bottle.
  • Drink plenty of fluids—enough to have pale yellow or clear urine. Cold fluids (popsicles) or warm fluids (teas), whichever is more soothing.
  • Get plenty of rest—NO late nights.
  • Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower.
  • Use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
  • Cough drops, throat lozenges, or sore throat spray for pain relief. These may help numb the sore throat and decrease cough.
  • Gargle salt water—1/4 tablespoon salt with 8 ounces of warm water 3-4 times per day.

Nasal/Sinus Congestion

  • Apply a warm compress to the face where pressure is present.
  • May use a nasal sinus rinse (Neil Med) to soften and clear mucus. Be sure to use bottles or boiled/sterile (Distilled) water.
  • Other medication options for symptom treatment:
    • Nasal steroid sprays: fluticasone (Flonase) to decrease swelling in the nose and to decrease production of nasal drainage.
    • Expectorants: guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin) to loosen mucus and facilitate removal.
    • Oral decongestant: pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) to ease sinus congestion and pressure. Do NOT use if you have high blood pressure.
  • Seek Medical attention with:
    • severe facial pressure, fevers, and discolored mucus from the nose.
    • persistent sinus congestion and pressure for greater than 10 days with no symptom improvement or worsening symptoms.

Sore Throat

  • Follow a liquid diet or soft foods to improve comfort with swallowing.
  • Consider using throat lozenges or sore throat spray for temporary relief of symptoms.
  • Seek URGENT Care with a sore throat causing breathing problems or an inability to swallow saliva.
  • Seek Medical attention with:
    • fever, stiff neck, sore throat and/or white spots on tonsils.
    • sore throat lasting more than 3 days without a stuffy or runny nose.
    • sore throat lasting more than 5 days with other symptoms.


  • Use honey or tea with honey to help control the cough.
  • Try an antitussive such as dextromethorphan (Delsym) for cough. You will also find this in combination products such as Robitussin, DayQuil, etc.
  • Seek Medical attention with:
    • a cough lasting more than 3 weeks.
    • difficulty/painful breathing, shortness of breath.
    • a cough plus a fever and/or trouble breathing.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I feel like I am always sick. What can I do to prevent getting sick?

  • Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, regular exercise, drink plenty of water.
  • Wash your hands frequently, but especially before you eat and after using the restroom.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Keep up to date with vaccines, especially influenza and COVID vaccines.
  • If you have asthma or other respiratory disease, be sure to take your scheduled inhalers and medications as prescribed.

What should I do if I get sick?

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • You may return to your normal activities when you are:
    • Fever free for at least 24 hours (without Tylenol or ibuprofen.)
    • Symptoms are improving.
  • Avoid those at risk for severe illness such as the very young, the very old, those that are pregnant, and those with complex disease.

When should I schedule an appointment?

  • Fever greater than 100.4F for greater than 3 days.
  • If symptoms last greater than 10-14 days and show no signs of improvement or are worsening.
  • If you feel you have strep throat, intense throat pain, headache, or sinus pain.
  • If fever returns after being fever free for greater than 24 hours without medications.
  • Difficulty swallowing or inability to tolerate any oral fluids.
  • With any shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty or painful breathing, or other concerning symptoms.
  • If you would like to speak with a medical provider about any concerning symptoms.

How can I schedule an appointment at Student Health?

  • Log into the Student Health Portal ( with your NetID and password to schedule an appointment online.
  • Call us at (920) 424-2424.
  • Stop into Radford Hall and schedule an appointment at the front desk.

I think I have a cold, how long will it last?

  • Most cases of the viral common cold get better without treatment within 7-10 days.
  • Cough is sometimes the last symptom to resolve and can last up to 2-4 weeks.
  • Antibiotics do not treat cold viruses. They are used to treat illnesses caused by bacteria.

I’m sick, can I go to class?

  • It is okay to go to class if you are fever free for at least 24 hours (without Tylenol or ibuprofen), symptoms are improving, and you are feeling well enough to attend.
  • Be sure to email professors and keep them updated. Let them know you are sick and when you plan to return to class. Inquire about any make-up work.
  • When you return to class, wear a mask, cover your cough, wash your hands, and socially distance.

I tested positive for COVID-19, do I need to isolate?

  • No, CDC no longer recommends an isolation period, however, keep in mind that you may still be contagious. Stay home if you are sick and follow recommendations above to prevent the spread to others.

Can I get a medical excuse for my professors?

  • It is the policy of the UWO Student Health Center (SHC) not to provide students with excuses for short-term absences from class or missed deadlines due to illness, injury, or mental health appointments.
  • In the event of a prolonged illness or injury requiring medical attention and an absence of more than three days, we work with student and the UWO Dean of Students Office if needed to provide documentation.
  • Documentation of mental health illnesses is generally provided only to those clients with whom we have an ongoing or formerly established therapeutic relationship.
  • See SHC policy for further information.

Helpful Resources:


Radford Hall, First Floor
777 Algoma Boulevard
Phone: (920) 424-2424
Fax: (920) 424-1769

May-Term Hours:

Monday: 8am-4:30pm
Tuesday: 10am-4:30pm
Wednesday: 8am-4:30pm
Thursday: 8am-4:30pm
Friday: 8am-4:30pm
Sat & Sun: Closed

Summer Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 9am-3pm
Fri, Sat & Sun: Closed
Closed: June 12, July 4