Sick as a dog? Keep the cold/flu at bay!

Taking an antibiotic for the cold or flu? What is the point?

Antibiotics are medications that are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. The common cold and flu are viral infections, and asking your prescriber for an antibiotic to treat these conditions is something we do not encourage you to do.

When is it ok for you vs not okay to take antibiotics?

Common Cause: Virus Common Cause: Bacteria
Sore throat, sinusitis

Vomiting and diarrhea

Runny nose, cough, head cold

Kidney infection

Skin infection



Antibiotics rarely needed Antibiotics needed


If you were to take antibiotics when they are not needed this may create antibiotic resistance, which can occur when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics and can learn to resist them. How can you avoid antibiotic resistance?

  1. If you have been prescribed an antibiotic COMPLETE the course of medication by taking all of the dispensed pills
  2. DO NOT skip doses of antibiotics if prescribed
  3. DO NOT save pills for later

Don’t want to get sick this winter … then take these precautions and you can limit your exposure to feeling ill.

  1. Wash your hands!
    1. Your hands are a good environment for cold viruses, and these viruses can stay on your skin for up to 2 hours.
  2. Try and avoid close contact to those who are ill!
  3. Sneeze or cough into the pit of your elbow, to avoid virus from spreading onto your hands!

If you unfortunately catch the common cold or flu, then symptomatic treatment until the virus passes is the best option. If symptoms do not resolve after a week, or worsen, we would encourage you to schedule an appointment with our providers at Student Life Student Health Services, or visit your primary care physician.


Symptoms Treatment
Sore throat Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen

Honey and lemon, or anesthetic lozenges

Dry cough (lack of mucus)

Wet cough (production of mucus)

Dry cough—dextromethorphan

Wet cough—guaifenesin

Fever, pain, joint or muscle ache Acetaminophen or ibuprofen
Runny nose, or congestion Nasal sprays—oxymetazoline (do not use more than 3 days, ask your pharmacist if symptoms persist)

Oral Decongestants—pseudophedrine or phenylephrine


Justin Corpus

PharmD Candidate 2018



  1. Marjama, K. Treating the common cold. Pharmacy Times (2017). 83 (12): 95-96.
  2. Allan, M., Arrol, B. Prevention and treatment of the common cold: making sense of the evidence. CMAJ (2014); 186 (3): 190-199.
  3. Schroeder, M., Brooks, B., Brooks, A. The complex relationship between virulence and antibiotic resistance. Genes (2017). 8 (1): 39-62

You might be a germophobe if…

  • You die a little inside when someone sneezes without covering their mouth.
  • You probably own at least 50 pocket hand sanitizers.
  • Lysol/bleach is a household necessity.
  • You hate unnecessary physical contact.
  • Handshakes make you anxious.
  • You wonder how the seven dwarfs could continue living with Sneezy.

But despite your best efforts, you may still be coming into contact with germs.  Check out this Mythbuster episode where they track the transfer of germs at a typical gathering.



Mythbusters – Hand, Elbow, or Hankie

We are constantly told to COVER OUR COUGH or to SNEEZE INTO OUR SLEEVE, but does it really matter?  Is sneezing or coughing into my sleeve really any better than using a tissue, for instance?  Mythbusters decided to put it to the test.  They inhaled some dye and then sneezed, using different barriers, the hand, a hankie, and a sleeve.  The results – SLEEVE!  Not only did this result in the least amount of exposure, but the odds of passing it on to another person through a handshake or by touching another surface was infinitely less.  You can view their test cases below.





Allergies versus colds – How to tell the difference?

Spring is in the air (although it’s snowing as I’m writing this blog), which means prime allergy season has begun! The common cold is also still prevalent in the ever-changing weather of Ohio.  Here are some facts about the differences between two similar presenting diseases and some tips on how to treat them! ALLERGIES Students may be more likely to develop allergies while attending college.  This could be due to living in a different region that has different pollens in the air and students may be exposed to different allergens.  Allergy symptoms occur quickly after exposure to an allergen and will last as long as you are exposed to the allergen.  Common symptoms include: runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, wheezing, and watery or itchy/dry eyes.

Common causes of seasonal allergies: pollen, dust, dust mites, food, animal dander, and mold


Colds are caused by a virus, and very rarely are caused by bacteria. They mimic the same symptoms as allergies, but may also include fever, sore throat, and body aches.  Colds develop over several days and usually your body can clear the virus within several days to a week. Warning signs that you may have a bacterial infection (NOT the common cold) are vomiting or diarrhea along with fever and body aches and other common cold/allergy symptoms.  If you have these symptoms it’s important to see a doctor and stay hydrated!

Both allergies and the common cold have the same over-the-counter (OTC) treatment choices and non-medication related recommendations to help alleviate symptoms.

Common OTC Treatments:

  • Non-drowsy antihistamines – reduce symptoms of allergies like runny nose, itchy/watery eyes
    • Ex. Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine)
    • Counseling tips: take daily during allergy season to prevent and reduce symptoms
  • Nasal steroids – helps reduce nasal inflammation, nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing
    • Ex. Flonase (fluticasone), Nasacort (triamcinolone)
    • Counseling tips: requires a few days of treatment to notice effect on symptom improvement, and needs to be taken on a daily basis to continue to work
  • Nasal decongestants – helps reduce nasal congestion (stuffy nose)
    • Ex. Afrin nasal spray (oxymetazoline)
    • Counseling tips: should only be used for 3-4 days
  • Oral decongestants – helps reduce nasal and chest congestion
    • Ex. Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
    • Counseling tips: do NOT use if you have high blood pressure without asking your doctor first
  • Artificial tears/saline solution – helps relieve dry or itchy eye irritation
    • Ex. Visine products, Artificial Tears
  • Pain relievers – reduce headaches associated with allergies or virus
    • Ex. Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil (ibuprofen)
    • Counseling tips: don’t use more than the recommended dosing; be aware these ingredients may be in other OTC products and will count towards your maximum daily dose!
  • Cough drops – helps relieve cough associated with nasal drainage

 Non-Medicine Treatment:

  • Avoid allergens as much as possible!


  • Use a humidifier in your home to help with congestion
  • Wash hands/face often during pollen season
  • Avoid rubbing itchy eyes, try and use a cold compress instead to relieve symptoms
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses during pollen season to reduce eye irritation
  • Close windows/doors at home when pollen count is high

If you ever have questions about which OTC products can help your allergies or reduce the symptoms associated with a cold don’t hesitate to talk to your pharmacist or doctor!

Lindsey Glaze, PharmD Candidate 2016

Can I get the flu shot if I’m sick? What if I have a fever?

Flu shots available in the pharmacy.

We’re quickly heading into the heart of flu season here, Buckeyes – in fact we’ve already seen a couple of cases – so it’s time to talk flu vaccine. 

There are a few valid reasons to not get a flu vaccine:

  • You’ve had a severe allergic reaction to eggs in the past
  • You’ve had a bad reaction to a flu vaccine in the past
  • You’ve had something called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after receiving influenza vaccine in the past. 

These are pretty rare conditions, but being sick this time of year sure isn’t and we get asked all the time whether or not someone can get a flu shot if they’re sick.  Or even worse – people just assume they can’t and we never see them!  So let’s set the record straight.

If you’re sick with a cold or other mild illness (respiratory or otherwise) and you don’t have a fever, you can absolutely get your flu vaccine.  If you have a fever (temp over 99.5ish), the general consensus has always been that you should hold off on getting the flu vaccine until it breaks.  Why?  Two reasons:

  1. If you spike a fever right after getting the vaccine, we won’t know if you’re having a bad reaction to the vaccine (see above) or if it’s just your illness.  We don’t want to confuse the matter and cause you to not get the vaccine in the future.
  2. The vaccine might not be as effective.  If your immune system is all fired up fighting an infection, your white blood cells might get confused and attack the vaccine along with whatever ails you, leading to a weaker response to the vaccine.

As you can see, neither of these issues is a safety concern – getting a flu shot while you have a fever isn’t going to hurt you.  Because of this, and because influenza can be deadly even in healthy teenagers, many health care providers are starting to think it might be better to give the flu vaccine to someone with a fever and risk them having a slightly weaker response than to send them away and risk them not coming back for the vaccine at all. 

When in doubt, just ask us.  You can come into our pharmacy to get your flu shot between 8:30am – 4:00pm, Monday through Friday – no appointment necessary!  Just go to the first floor registration desk at the Wilce Student Health Center.  We’ll collect your payment; you’ll turn around and walk about 12 steps to the pharmacy where one of our highly skilled and dedicated pharmacists will administer the immunization.  We’ll ask you to stick around for 10 minutes to ensure you do not have a bad reaction.

So come in and see us for your flu vaccine!  To save yourself time, you can even download the 3 forms you’ll need to fill out here and bring them in with you.  See how easy it is?

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University


Can I get the flu from a flu shot?

Fall Colors

Q: I don’t want the flu shot because it always gives me the flu.  Is it okay not to get vaccinated?

A: Here are a facts to consider:

1. Injected influenza vaccine is an inactivated viral vaccine, meaning that there is no living influenza in the injection.  Therefore, you cannot get influenza from the vaccine.   This is a commonly held misbelief, in part because people commonly get upper respiratory illnesses in the winter months that they attribute to the vaccine.

2. The influenza vaccine is designed to protect against the most likely flu strains to appear in the upcoming season.  Against those strains, the vaccine is 70-90% effective in prevent infection.  If a different strain appears in the community, which is possible, then the vaccine may not protect against that one.

3. Nearly all vaccines can cause a brief period of low grade fever and body aches in the 1-2 days following vaccination, along with some discomfort in the injection site.  The fever and aches are due to your immune system responding to the vaccine (although the absence of these symptoms doesn’t mean the vaccine didn’t work), so in essence, this is a good thing.

All in all, the benefits of this vaccine greatly outweigh the risks.  Come see us if you have more questions, or are interested in getting the flu vaccine.   It is fully covered for those of you on the Comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan, and several other insurance plans are covering it, too.  

Check out our Events Calendar for upcoming walk-in flu vaccine programs. 

Good Health!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)


Our flu vaccine has arrived!!

Don't get lost in the crowd!

Fall Colors

Hey Buckeye students!  Our stock of flu vaccine has arrived and we are all ready to get this vaccine to you conveniently and efficiently.

Remember, Flu shots are very important to prepare you for a Buckeye Winter!  WHY? 

  • Flu season in Ohio usually is from December to April
  • Getting vaccinated any time this fall will help protect you throughout the flu season
  • CDC now recommends EVERYONE over the age of 6 months get a flu shot yearly
  • Have asthma, other lung diseases, or any other chronic illness? Then you have DOUBLE the reason to get this done!

Flu vaccines are designed to match as closely as possible to the strains of flu expected each winter, so the vaccine usually arrives in the community in the late summer/early flu. 

Walk-in (no appointment needed) programs will be held from 2-5:30 PM on our Ground Floor on:

  • October 1, 11, 18, 25, 30
  • November 7, 15

SHS Pharmacy also gives walk-in flu shots from 8:30 – 4:30 Monday through Friday.  No appointment needed!

Scheduled appointments for flu shots are also available by calling 614-292-4321 or online through My BuckMD (requires enrollment at the Health Center).

Our EVENTS Calendar also gives you access to forms that you can review and complete prior to your Health Center visit.

Our Flu Shot program price has been steady at $25 for over 5 years in a row, and have been covered in full by the Comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan.  This year, other insurance plans may cover this vaccine in full as well. 


Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)


Get a Gold Medal for Vaccine Awareness!


Go for the Gold

We all need immunizations (also called vaccines or shots) to help protect us from serious diseases. To help keep our local campus community safe, BuckMD and OSU Student Health Services are proudly participating in National Immunization Awareness Month.

Shots can prevent infectious diseases like measles, diphtheria, rubella, and HPV. They can also reduce the number of students who will suffer from influenza each winter.  But people in the U.S. still die from these and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

It’s important to know which shots you need and when to get them. Visit the Student Health Services website for information on the wide array of vaccines we provide.

Here are some general guidelines for the vaccines you need:

  • Everyone age 6 months and older needs a seasonal flu shot every year.
  • Check your records to be sure your have been fully immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.

Other shots work best when they are given at certain times.

  • All adults need a Td booster shot every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria, and should consider a Tdap booster to protect against whooping cough as well.  (The “p” in Tdap stands for pertussis, aka whooping cough)
  • First-year students should consider a meningitis shot if they have not had one since they turned 16.
  • HPV vaccines are only licensed up to age 26, and are best received early in your sexual life.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to find out other immunizations you may need. Go to our Events Calendar to get dates and times for our Flu Shot programs, and click on the date you choose to get more information

Here is a comment from a student who came to SHS for their flu shot – the flu shot clinic (was) very efficient and convenient since I did not have to schedule an appointment.”

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

New Influenza in United States

Bing Images

“Iowa reports three novel swine-origin H3N2 cases”

Another influenza strain has appeared in the United States.  Cases are limited, and most are associated with direct contact with pigs.  Cases spread from person to person remain limited. The virus is a swine-origin triple-recombinant H3N2 that includes the matrix gene from the 2009 H1N1 virus.

  • As of yesterday, 10 cases have been counted in Pennsylvania, Maine, Indiana, and Iowa. 
  • Symptoms are similar to seasonal flu and include fever, cough, tiredness, body aches, and loss of appetite. None of the patients were seriously ill, and all have recovered.
  • The current flu vaccine does not contain this particular strain, but may offer some protection against the novel strain.
  • Personal protective measures such as covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick are important.

Though rare, the swine-origin flu infections in humans can occur, especially after close contact with swine.

Swine-origin viruses have shown sensitivity to antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), it said.

From: CIDRAP News, Nov 22, 2011

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)