Colds, coughs and flus

We are in the middle of cold and influenza (flu) season now, and it is not uncommon to be exposed and develop a cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache and fever.

COVID-19 (also known as Novel Coronavirus), a cold virus, has been in the news recently and is generating concern.  SFU is monitoring this outbreak closely and following public health advice. Frequently asked questions have been developed and can be found at: SFU community frequently asked questions about COVID-19. For more information regarding the current situation, see the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority statement on coronavirus

Taking everyday precautionary measures, such as proper hand washing, can reduce your risk of getting sick and help prevent widespread outbreaks of illness. 

Visit HealthLink BC’s website to learn more about the symptoms of colds and flus and preventative measures for dealing with various types of illness. These are available in 130 languages.

Health Tips

  • Get an annual flu shot (check with SFU Health & Counselling or Immunize BC for clinic locations). Note: flu shots do not immunize against cold viruses or coronavirus

  •  Avoid contact with those who are displaying flu or cold symptoms

  • Stay home if you are sick and practice self care (see section on Home Treatment)

    • This includes: plenty of rest, extra fluids to stay hydrated, avoid smoking, breathe moist air from a hot shower to clear a stuffy nose, non-prescription cough and cold medications, like Advil or Tylenol Cold and Sinus, cough drops, or cough syrup

  • Don’t share cups or utensils with other people

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

  • Practice proper hygiene and proper hand washing, especially before eating

  • Follow proper cough/sneeze etiquette

When to See a Doctor

Cold and flu symptoms can last between 2 and 14 days.  Most colds, coughs and flus are self-limiting and symptoms will go away within this time with rest and self care. It’s good to stay home and rest to avoid spreading germs to others. Antibiotics are not needed to treat these viral infections. 

Going to a doctor unnecessarily can get others sick, and doctor’s offices are busy this time of year.  If you are worried you are getting worse, here are some reasons to see a doctor.

  • High, prolonged fever (above 102 F or 39 C) with fatigue and body aches

  • Symptoms that last longer than 14 days or get worse

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

  • Chest pain or pressure

  • Fainting or feeling like you are going to faint

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Severe or persistent vomiting

  • Severe sinus pain in your face or forehead

If you do see a doctor, please phone ahead to let the office know you are coming in with flu symptoms, so they can be prepared for your visit. We will ask you to put on a mask on arrival in order to decrease the risk of spreading it to others. 

Concerned About Your Symptoms?

You can call the BC Health Line at 1-888-COVID19 or text 1-888-268-4319 to talk to a nurse for more information about what you should do.

If you believe you have come in contact with the COVID-19 and are ill, please call the clinic first before coming in.  We will ask you to put on a mask on arrival, in order to decrease the risk of spreading it to others. 

Complete the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to check if you should get tested.