The common cold can be caused by hundreds of different types of rhinoviruses. Because so many different viruses can cause a cold and because new cold viruses constantly develop, the body never builds up resistance against all of them. For this reason, colds are a frequent and recurring problem.

Unfortunately, colds have very similar symptoms to influenza illnesses. However, symptoms of a cold usually include greater congestion or “stuffy” or runny nose, sneezing and a scratchy throat. It is rare to have a high fever with a cold. Below are the main signs and symptoms that indicate you are infected with a rhinovirus.

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy or sore throat
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild fatigue

If you experience any of the following severe symptoms in addition to cold symptoms, call the Student Health Center, the clinician on call, or GERMS right away:

  • Severe pain or pressure in the chest
  • Severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Painful swallowing
  • Persistent fever

  • Wash your hands for 30 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze by using a tissue or your elbow.
  • Dispose of tissues immediately after use.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth – areas where the virus can enter your body.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Rest
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines

Sale of Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is Restricted
A few years ago a new federal law went into effect limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) a person could buy in a one-month period. Pseudoephedrine is a common ingredient found in many cold preparations and one commonly sold brand is “Sudafed”. You can still purchase these products but pharmacies are now required to keep them at the front counter and you will have to sign a log book and show a state-issued ID in order to buy them. There is no age requirement but you are limited to a certain amount per month. People taking these products for the treatment of cold symptoms should have no trouble obtaining adequate amounts easily. These new restrictions are aimed at reducing the use of pseudoephedrine in the illegal production of methamphetamine. For more information about this new law, go to

Student Health Center
Darnall Hall Ground Floor
To make an appt: (202) 687-2200

After hours clinician on-call: (202) 444-7243

Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS)
Village C West 206
(202) 687-4357