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Medical Conditions


Click below to learn more about particular health emergencies that the Student Health Services is monitoring and addressing on behalf of the Santa Clara community. 

Influenza Self Care Instructions

View the Cold & Flu Information Brochure (PDF 418KB)


The influenza (flu) vaccine is the primary method of preventing the flu and its severe complications. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. It is especially important for people at higher risk of severe flu and their close contacts.

The cost of vaccination is $25.00. Students may pay by cash or check or by charging their student account. Faculty and staff may pay by cash or check only.

Vaccine Clinics

The Student Health Services sponsors flu vaccine clinics on campus during business hours (typically in the fall quarter):


Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of serious complications from the flu. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following to stay healthy:

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva (the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and lining the eyelids).  When the small blood vessels become inflamed they are more visible.  This is what has led to the term “pink eye”.There are four main causes of pink eye:  viruses, bacteria, allergens and/or irritants.  Most cases of pink eye are mild and get better without treatment. Pink eye symptoms often accompany a common cold or respiratory illness.

Severe cases of pink eye need evaluation and treatment.  If you have symptoms of pink eye, seek medical treatment if you have any of the following:

  • Moderate to severe pain in your eye/s
  • Blurred vision or increased sensitivity to light
  • Intense redness in the eye/s
  • A weakened immune system
  • Symptoms that are getting worse or not improving
  • Pre-existing eye conditions which may put you at risk for complications/infection

Self-care measures may be all that is needed:

  • Apply a compress to your eyes.  Soak a clean, lint free cloth in water, wring it out and apply gently to closed eye/s.  Cool compresses are soothing, but a warm compress may feel better.  If your symptoms are in only one eye do not touch both eyes with the same cloth.
  • Over-the-counter eyedrops called artificial tears may relieve symptoms.
  • If you wear contact lenses, you need to stop wearing them until your eye/s feel better.

Viral and Bacterial conjunctivitis can easily spread from person to person.  Practicing good hygiene steps can control the spread of pink eye:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes
  • Wash any discharge from around your eyes several times a day.  
  • Wash your hands first, cleanse the eye area with a clean washcloth or tissue.  
  • Throw tissues away after use, if using a washcloth wash with hot water and detergent after use.  
  • Wash your hands again when done.Don’t share washcloths, towels, linens, blankets.  
  • Change pillowcases often.
  • Don’t share eye cosmetics or personal eye care items.
  • Throw away and replace any eye or face makeup used while infected.
  • Throw away contact lens solutions used while eyes infected.
  • Throw away disposable contact lenses and cases used while eyes infected.
  • Clean extended wear contact lenses as directed.
  • Clean eyeglasses and cases while infected being careful not to contaminate items (like towels) that might be shared by others.

If you are interested in additional information, please refer to the CDC website:

Welcome to Cowell's Self-Care Cafe

Choose and purchase over-the-counter medications here. Follow the directions below:

1)Find your symptoms in the display case

2)Grab a menu

3)Select your order and indicate pick-up preference

4)Bring your order to the reception desk

5)Have a seat in the waiting area

6)Your name will be called when your order is ready!

(There may be a short wait: if you want to pickup your order later. Please indicate on themenu and return by 4:00pm same day for pickup.Thank you!)


Cold and Flu Self-Care Cafe Menu

Gastroenteritis is a limited illness of your intestines caused by viruses or food. It is associated with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (some or all of these symptoms may be present). It does not respond to antibiotics, but some medications may help. Your intestines will not be able to process foods normally, so you will need to limit your diet temporarily.
Generally, we recommend not eating or drinking anything for 1 to 2 hours after the last time you vomited. Then you can start with sips of clear liquids.
Start on the following diet and progress gradually through the steps as you can tolerate.
Allow at least six to eight hours between each step.

  1. Clear liquids. These include water, Gatorade, clear bouillon or broth,ginger ale or 7-up, tea, apple juice, popsicles, jello. It is important to have more than just water; be sure to eat something with salt (bouillon or Gatorade).
  2. Bland diet: this includes bananas, plain rice, rice cereal without milk, applesauce, unbuttered toast, and plain noodles. Avoid milk products, as well as foods that are greasy or spicy.
  3. Add broiled or steamed chicken and vegetables. No milk products or spicy/greasy foods.
  4. Regular foods. Slowly add fats/milk/spices to your diet. Too rapid of an increase may make you feel worse.

If vomiting and/or diarrhea return at any time go back to the previous step. You will need to consider returning to the Health Center (or going to an urgent care center or emergency room if the Health Center is closed) if you see no improvement in 48 hours or your condition worsens.

What Is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the spinal cord fluid. The infection can be caused by bacteria or by a virus. Viral meningitis is easier to treat than bacterial meningitis and the results of contracting bacterial meningitis can be more severe. Effects of bacterial meningitis include brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities (most often with children who contract meningitis).

Signs and Symptoms

How Is Meningitis Spread?

Meningitis is most commonly spread through coughing, sneezing and kissing.

How Can You Reduce Your Risk of Contracting Meningitis?

Anyone living in close quarters with others (especially college students) should look into the meningitis vaccination. Menomune is a vaccine that is available through your doctor or through the Cowell Health Center. Call (408) 554-4501 for more information.

Further information about Viral and Bacterial Meningitis can be found at the CDC website.


What is happening in my head?

The sinuses are sets of air-filled spaces around the eyes and nose that help warm, clean, and moisten the air you breathe in. When you “catch a cold,’ the lining of the nose and sinuses becomes inflamed, producing more nasal discharge. If the sinus drainage holes become swollen, and mucus is thick and unable to move out, mucus can build up in the sinuses. This can result in a feeling of pressure in the face, difficulty breathing through the nose, or a headache in the face or forehead. Some people may also feel tired and feverish and may notice mucus draining down the back of the throat – sometimes making the throat sore. The mucus can get discolored but it doesn’t mean bacterial infection.

I need to get better fast! What can I do?

Unfortunately, most colds and sinus infections take about seven to 10 days to go away. Because they are caused by viruses, antibiotics don’t help them get better any faster; antibiotics only work against bacteria, which don’t cause colds. However, if you have plugged sinuses for more than a week and you feel as if you’re getting worse, it may be because mucus trapped in the sinus space for that long can grow bacteria. At that point, antibiotics may be helpful. Whether or not you take antibiotics, it is important to keep mucus moving out of the sinuses in order to feel better and speed up recovery.

What does work to “keep things moving” and help me feel better?

Rest and plenty of non-caffeinated fluids generally help. Keeping the mucus moving out of the sinuses can help reduce the pain and prevent a bacterial infection from brewing in the sinuses. Steam and hot chicken soup are safe treatments, but if you want to try something more, the following is a list of over-the-counter remedies that can be taken alone or in combination with each other. Always check with your health care provider or pharmacist to make sure you don’t have certain medical conditions or take certain drugs that could cause problems with some over-the counter medications.

Mucolytics thin the mucus to help it move out of the sinuses. They work better at the higher doses shown here. Lower doses found in combination pills with decongestants aren’t as helpful.

Saline flush or nasal spray helps move the mucus out of the nose. Saline is inexpensive and available in a nasal spray bottle, although a saline solution can easily be made at home (¼ to ½ tsp per cup of distilled or filtered water). Since homemade saline does not contain additives to stop microorganism growth, it should be discarded after one use.

Analgesics relieve fever, body aches, headache, and sore throat. These two analgesics can be used alternately if necessary to relieve symptoms. Both are available over the counter: 

Decongestants may help reduce swelling in the nose and sinuses. They are available in a pill or nasal spray. The pills may cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, so people with heart problems or high blood pressure should avoid using them. Do not use the nasal spray for more than 3 days, because using it longer can make the swelling worse when you stop using it.

Mucinex D® has both Mucolytics and Decongestants.

Cowell Health Center has many of these over-the-counter medications. Stop by and ask. No appointment needed.