Cold and flu season resources for students

November 10, 2011

As the fall season begins, so do the number Penn State students suffering from colds and flu. It can sometimes be difficult to know whether or not it is necessary to see a clinician for treatment. University Health Services (UHS) has a number of resources that students can use to determine their best course of action.

Differentiating between colds and flu can be difficult. Generally, flu sufferers are more likely to have fever, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue. Individuals with a cold are more likely to have predominant symptoms of sneezing and nasal congestion. Influenza testing may be used to help determine the nature of the illness but for the majority of respiratory illness, self-treatment of the symptoms is all that is required. Self-care guides for both cold and flu are available on the UHS website.

The UHS advice nurse line is available to help students decide the best course of action. This service is available to Penn State students 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 814-863-4463. The advice nurses also respond to email sent through myUHS during regular business hours.

There are a number of symptoms that indicate medical evaluation is advised. These include:

-- Fever greater than 101-degrees Fahrenheit or increasing during a two to three day period
-- Fever that does not resolve with medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
-- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (not due to nasal congestion)
-- Severe headache or neck stiffness or pain
-- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
-- Dizziness or confusion
-- Vomiting
-- Rash
-- Difficulty swallowing fluids
-- Flu-like symptoms not improving after two to three days
-- Flu-like symptoms that were improving, but now are getting worse

Flu season has not yet arrived at University Park. Students who have not been vaccinated against the seasonal flu can call 814-863-0774 or make an appointment online through myUHS at

Additional information and resources about caring for yourself during cold and flu season are available at

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Last Updated April 19, 2017