Making the cold not so common

Mary Sullivan, Guest Columnist

We are in the middle of Fall quarter with its intensity and fast pace. Are you watching for the warning signs of the common cold, and ready to respond? Health Services realizes getting sick can greatly impact your performance and classes.

In a 2015 De Anza College Health Survey, 16 percent of the students surveyed reported that colds, the flu or sore throats had affected their individual academic performance in the last 12 months, while four percent reported a sinus, ear or respiratory illness. This means those students received a lower grade on an exam or an important project, a lower grade in a course, an incomplete or dropped a course or experienced significant disruptions in practicum work.

Exposure to rhinovirus, the bug that causes the common cold, occurs when the virus gets introduced into your body. This can occur when students touch their eyes, nose or mouth, or after touching surfaces with the virus on them, or inhaling the virus from a nearby infected person who is coughing, sneezing or even speaking. Airborne viruses can survive for days after landing on nonporous surfaces. Once the virus is in your body, symptoms usually begin two to three days later and last for two to 14 days.

Seek medical attention if you have a fever lasting more than three days or a temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, severe sore throat more than 24 hours, symptoms lasting more than 10 days or symptoms that are severe or unusual.

There is no cure for the common cold, and you cannot make the cold go away any faster. However, one can ease symptoms by:

  • Getting at least seven to 10 hours of sleep per night.
  • Drinking lots of non-caffeinated fluids to replace the loss from runny noses and watery eyes.
  • Gargling with warm salt water throughout the day and use a soft speaking volume to minimize use of vocal chords.
  • Using cough drops, which are available at Health Services, to ease your dry throat and coughs.
  • Taking over the counter pain or cold medicine, available at Health Services. Always read the labels and use as directed.

Stay on the healthy side by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, rubbing for 20 seconds, the duration of “Happy Birthday.” If water is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, available for free at Health Services.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Sneezing and coughing into your shirt sleeve to limit the spread of germs.
  • Staying away from people who are ill.
  • Avoiding hugging, kissing or shaking hands.

There is no cure for the common cold, but there are ways to lessen the impact it has on your college life! Start by getting a free flu shot at the De Anza Fall Flu Clinic, on Oct. 26 and 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Don Batista Room, Campus Center.