Campus Health

Health Education

General Health

Self-Care Guide

The Mayo Clinic offers a First Aid Guide on their web site that provides information about addressing common medical emergencies, including black eyes, burns, fainting, head trauma, and many other topics.

Drake University's Student Health Center has developed a comprehensive Self-Care Guide including information on how to care for common ailments such as cold, influenza, nosebleeds, etc. The first pages of the guide describe Drake University student health services and are relevant to Drake students only. However, the next several pages describe symptoms and care for many conditions.

The following information about how to treat common ailments and When to Visit a Healthcare Provider was developed by the Nurse Practitioner at IUPUI Campus Health:

Colds and Flu

Have you heard the recommendations to cough or sneeze into your sleeve? Coughing and sneezing into your hand puts germs where they easily spread to other objects that people touch. How much easier to spread a cold? Watch the video "Why Don't We Do It In Our Sleeves?"!

Colds and flu are caused by viruses and are easily spread from one person to another. Resting during the first day of a cold can shorten the length and severity of your illness. Staying home prevents spreading the illness to others. Sleep and take medications like Tylenol or Advil to decrease a fever or ease the muscle aches and pains. Decongestants (Tylenol Cold/Flu, Dayquil, etc.) can help reduce head congestion and coughing. Over the counter medications, such as Mucinex can help with a cough. See the over-the-counter guide in table format (or power point format) to help understand which might help.

Flu generally begins abruptly and you feel achey and tired all over. Just like with a cold, there are several strains. some cause coughing, others hit the GI system harder. Some seem more like a cold. Still flu is caused by a virus.

As long as the mucous from your nose or cough is clear or white, antibiotics will not help. Sometimes a cold or flu will turn into a bacterial infection and then antibiotics may be necessary. Visit your healthcare provider if you start feeling worse when everyone else is getting better or if a fever gets worse.

Sprained Ankles

It is easy to twist an ankle while walking or playing sports. Sometimes we fall and injure other parts too. If you sprain your ankle, give it a rest. An ankle sprain can take as long as a fracture to heal.

The most important things to do for a sprained ankle is to Rest, Ice it, Compress it (wrap with an elastic wrap or brace, and Elevate it (raise it up) and protect it from further injury. Wear flat, supportive shoes while your ankle is healing.

If you are unable to bear weight on your ankle, the pain is intolerable even with Advil (Ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen), or it itís not improving after 2-3 days, visit your health care provider or urgent care/emergency room.


Fatigue is a common complaint among college students. It can be difficult to manage your time and get enough time for sleep, homework, socializing, and perhaps work and family. Not eating well can deplete your body of vitamins and minerals which reduces its ability to repair itself and withstand stress.

Look at your schedule and ask yourself the following questions: Are you getting enough sleep? Are you stressed out over a relationship, homework or family problems? How is your dietóare you living on fast-food, too much sugar, caffeine, or alcohol? If you feel that your level of fatigue is unacceptable or not caused by the above reasons then visit your healthcare provider.

Low Back Pain

Low back pain is often caused by poor posture, inadequate chairs, improper lifting, or personal stress. Check your backpack or purse and remove unnecessary items. A backpack that weighs 20-30 pounds can put stress on your back and make it hurt, especially if usually slung over one shoulder.

If you have a backache, try a massage, a heating pad, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and a stretch. Grab hold of a desk or bed and with your arms fully extended and bend your knees until you feel your back stretch. Hold it for a count of 10 and relax. Or stand against a wall and bend your knees until the small of your back is flat against the wall. Again hold it and relax.

Check your study area and computer set-up to see if you have low back support. Make sure you sit with your back against the chair and sit up straight. Sometimes placing a small pillow or rolled towel behind the small of your back will provide more support and ease your back pain. Lying on your stomach to study also causes sore backsótry changing positions when you study to see if this alleviates your back pain. If these measures don't help, see your healthcare provider.

Bleeding Cuts and Other Injuries

Use a towel, washcloth, paper towel, t-shirt, handkerchief, or other cloth/gauze and place it over the wound. Firmly hold pressure for 10 minutes without lifting it up to see if the bleeding has stopped. An ice-pack over a thin cloth will help stop bleeding by constricting blood vessels. The ice will also decrease any swelling that may occur.

If the bleeding continues after using these measures, visit an urgent care or emergency room. Sutures may be necessary. If the wound is deep and gapes more than 2mm, the wound may need to be taped, sutured or glued. If you have not had a tetanus shot in the last 5 years, see your healthcare provider immediately to get one.

If the bleeding stops, wash it gently with water and mild soap. Donít use peroxide or other antiseptic cleaners and donít scrub it. Tweezers can be used to pick out dirt and debris not removed by washing it. Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover with gauze or a bandaid/bandage. Change the dressing at least every day. If redness, warmth, and pus appear, see your heathcare provider.

Minor Scrapes and Abrasions

Wash the wound with soap and water, ice it, and cover with an antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin, Neosporin or Triple antibiotic ointment and a bandage/bandaid. Change the dressing at least every day and see your provider if it starts getting red, warm and pus-covered. Ice will decrease the swelling and pain.