Those coughs and sniffles emerging around campus may finally have met their match.

Nasty colds and flu viruses are keeping many Yalies homebound during the winter months simply because they might not know how to properly treat them. University Health Services believes it has found the answer: an informational and clinical session devoted to the predator that is the common cold.

Beginning Tuesday and scheduled to run through the end of February, combination treatment-and-education sessions will be held four times a day at UHS’s new Cold Care Center. Sick students can receive an individual medical checkup, a computer presentation on the common cold and a spread of chicken soup and nutritious juices.

Most Yalies do not know how to treat the common cold, according to UHS infectious disease specialist Dr. Ravi Durvasula, who created the cold care program. For sick students, a common knee-jerk reaction is to reach for antibiotics that have been prescribed for them by physicians in their hometown. This is not an effective remedy, Durvasula said.

“The primary focus of these clinics is to show students that antibiotics are not the correct therapy for the common cold,” Durvasula said.

The common cold is a viral infection. Since antibiotics treat strictly bacterial infections, they are useless against the colds that cause much student malaise.

Interestingly, student demand for such clinics is currently at its peak, while the impact of this cold season has been relatively light, Dr. Nathan Jennison of UHS said. In explaining this oddity, Jennison said students do not want to be patients.

“They’re very much interested in preventative medicine,” Jennison said. “These are busy people, and they can’t afford to catch a cold that will keep them sidelined for even a little period of time.”

Jennison also said UHS hopes to make the cold care clinics, now in a pilot phase, annual events.

Each session is designed to accommodate about 20 Yalies — both walk-ins and those with appointments — and lasts for one hour. Every participant takes away a cold-care packet filled with over-the-counter medications, disposable thermometers and hot soup and cocoa mixes.

Although this is the first group treatment approach to colds at Yale, it is not unique as a form of dealing with illness. Drop-in group medical appointments, or DIGMAs, have been very successful in the United States in providing therapy for cancer patients, according to Durvasula. Sixty to 70 percent of eligible patients voluntarily participate in DIGMAs and those who do experience higher satisfaction than those who do not, Durvasula said.

Durvasula said that, if the cold care clinics are successful, UHS might implement similar DIGMAs for sufferers of diabetes, asthma and hypertension.

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