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Drug Store or Doctor?



I don’t know about you, but the infirmary is my least favorite place on campus. Even though winter has come and gone (thank God), with allergies and the stress of the end of the semester, everybody I know seems to be getting sick.  And I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be on a gorgeous day than inside the infirmary waiting to pick up antibiotics or be told I need to take a Claritin.  Sometimes a trip to CVS is all you need to start feeling better, but other times it’s very necessary to head over to Health Services and get checked out.  To alleviate some added stress and keep all you Collegiettes out and about, here’s a quick guide to determine if you’re all set with over the counter or need to see a professional.


Runny Noses and Coughs

This spring, tree pollen and dust levels are forecasted to be high to extreme in Boston.  These allergens are classic triggers for the sniffles and that irritating cough that makes everyone you know want to punch you.  But, what could seem like allergies might be something more.  So, go to the infirmary when:

  1. It hurts when you cough
  2. You are stuffed up but can’t blow your nose
  3. You have a fever

These are signs that you might have an infection, and would need antibiotics to help your symptoms.  Otherwise, Clartin or Zyrtec are great for allergies, and if that’s not helping, a little DayQuil might help you get through these final days of classes.





Staring at a computer screen for hours while you’re writing that final paper, an intense hangover, or the stress of figuring out summer plans are more than enough to get your head pounding for hours.  For me, I take three Advil and try to continue with my day.  But sometimes, that might not be enough.  So, go to the infirmary when:

  1. You’re overly sensitive to light or sound
  2. You’re throwing up or feel dizzy
  3. You’re having the same headache more than twice a week

These are signs that you might be having a migraine, or a variety of other (very rare) problems that should be checked out.  Apparently, women are more likely than men to suffer from migraines, and they can often go undiagnosed since it might just seem like a terrible headache.  Go to Health Services or see a doctor if it seems like over the counter pain medication isn’t cutting it, as there are some great prescriptions that can improve your quality of life if you do have a migraine condition.



I don’t know about you, but this time of year, I feel like I’m perpetually tired.  And maybe it’s just the hypochondriac in me, but every time I feel like I’m napping too much, I go on WebMD and convince myself I have mono (mononucleosis).  So, to save you from the stress of self-diagnosing, here are some tell-tale signs that your exhaustion is from more than just staying up too late.  Go to the infirmary when:

  1. You have a sore throat, or just had Strep Throat
  2. You have a fever
  3. You have a weird rash

These are signs that something strange is going on, whether or not it’s mono.  Exhaustion is nothing to mess around with, since it can definitely mess with your productivity and more importantly, having fun.  More often than not, a quick nap and some caffeine will do the trick.  If being tired seems to be impacting your daily routine in a big way, there’s no shame in getting checked out!


Anything “Down There”

There’s nothing more awful and embarrassing than waking up one morning, or going to the bathroom after class, and thinking, “what the hell was that?”  It’s not something anybody likes to talk about, but knowing what to do when something seems off can keep you comfortable, and more importantly, safe.  So, go to the infirmary when:

  1. It hurts to go to the bathroom
  2. If you have any itching, burning, or redness
  3. You have a weird rash

These are signs that, in short, something is wrong.  There are a lot of over-the-counter fixes for feminine issues, and are usually pretty effective.  But, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and even scarier, STDs, can manifest themselves in very subtle ways, but they need medical attention.  However, coupled with antibiotics, Pyridium (medicine from Heaven that helps with UTI pain), anti-fungal medicine (sorry, gross) and cranberry supplements are all sold over-the-counter.  Use your judgment, but be safe.


All in all, there’s no shame in sitting in the Health Services waiting room and seeing some very friendly doctors and nurses if you’re worried something’s up.  It’s unpleasant and takes up some time out of your day, but it could be super necessary and improve your quality of life.  We’re lucky to have great access to convenience stores in Cleveland Circle where over-the-counter medicine is a safe bet, but sometimes some TLC from prescription medication and a check-up is what is going to kick these annoying symptoms.








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