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They call it "the common cold" but if you have one you are apt to feel it is anything but! You're miserable as you cough and sneeze and blow your nose, and you know you’re in for some tough days ahead!

There’s a humorous old saying that says, “If you ignore a cold, it lasts a week, but if you treat it aggressively, you get rid of it in just seven days.”

There is a great deal you can do to prevent and/or treat the common cold. Those who favor pharmaceuticals reach for drugstore cold formulas believing that these products provide fast relief. They are mistaken! The drug-takers are sadly misinformed. People spend more than $1 billion a year on products that claim to prevent or treat colds, but all they do is suppress the cold symptoms, cost you money, cause annoying side effects and possibly even increase your risk of cancer.

Is it a cold or is it the flu? That is the question. 

Our doctors tell us that the common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract that attacks the nose and nasal passages and can spread to the chest. The first symptoms are a scratchy throat, sneezing, headache, aching muscles and congestion. If you have a hacking cough, you might have a more serious viral infection.

Because a common cold itself is a viral infection, taking antibiotics won't help. 

Vitamin C will help, and that is a good first step in fighting off a cold. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects body cells from destruction by free radicals. Good food sources of Vitamin C include sweet red pepper, broccoli, orange juice, tomatoes and berries. The RDA for Vitamin C is 60 milligrams. Many people feel that they need to take 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams daily.

Zinc is also an important regulator of immunity and has clinically been found to be an excellent mineral to take in the event of viral illness such as the common cold. Many homeopathic medicines that are now being offered include echinacea, cinnamon, ginger and licorice – which all help improve the immune system. Pineapple is also a good source because it cleanses the body, aids digestion, increases circulation and regulates the glands.

People most likely suffer colds during the fall and winter, not because of the cold weather, but because people spend more time indoors in close quarters. Many cold viruses seem to thrive in low humidity, making nasal passages drier, which then makes them more susceptible to infection. 

Contrary to popular belief, the common cold is not caused by wet feet, wet hair or cold weather. Rather the viruses infect you more when your resistance is low, when you are dealing with emotional or physical stress, or as a result of poor diet, overwork or lack of sleep. 

Colds spread easily through droplets put into the air through coughing and sneezing, and then being inhaled by another person. They also spread quickly by hand-to-hand, or hand-to-infected-surface contact, especially when we are inclined to put an infected hand to the face area, like the nose, eye and mouth.

Wash your hands often. Water alone will wash the virus down the drain. It is important to teach children to wash often and to have hand sanitizer or disposable towelettes easily available to use when they can't wash with soap and water.

While it is important to cough and sneeze into a facial tissue, it is just as important to dispose of the tissue and then wash or sanitize the hands as soon as possible. Cold viruses survive about three hours on the surface. 

Do you sanitize your shopping cart at the grocery store? Good for you, but better still it is also important to sanitize your hands when you are leaving the store. Think of all the places you touch when you are shopping. The obvious ones are on inside handrails, which are a necessity, but a big potential for germs. But have you thought of all the little places and happenings for contamination?

How many hands have touched the products you are considering buying? The checkout counter is a notorious place to pick up germs and take them along home with you and your groceries. And of course everyone needs to consider the restrooms as a potential home for germs. How many of us wash our hands before we use the restroom? How many door handles did you touch coming in?

And women, let’s not forget your handbag. Our handbags get set in the shopping cart, on the floor when we are trying on clothes, or on the counters etc. Think about all the doorknobs, chairs, or tables we touch – germs settle EVERYWHERE!

In spite of all the precautions you have taken, you can still get a cold. There are many over-the-counter medications that may relieve you of some discomfort. There are also a great number of family cures and remedies that may or may not help physically or mentally. And there is always chicken soup, which, believe it or not, really does work.

A professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Nebraska found that chicken soup reduced the action of neutrophila - or in plain English, the white blood cells that attached to areas of inflammation and may cause irritated airways and mucus production. The chicken itself also contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which is similar to a drug called acetylcysteine, which is often used to treat bronchitis and other respiratory infections. In fact, acetylcysteine was originally derived from chicken feathers and skin. Actually, it has been proven that soup of any kind, with or without chicken, works wonders.

Although aspirin and acetaminophen reduce fever, in carefully controlled studies both acetaminophen and aspirin actually have been shown to increase nasal congestion and other cold symptoms, as well as suppress the immune system. This suppression of immune function may lead to a more serious infection, and definitely increases the duration of the common cold.

The best way to protect yourself first and foremost is, take care of yourself! We have all heard that a healthy lifestyle may reduce your risk of getting a cold. It is important to exercise, get lots of sleep, eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of liquids and get lots of sleep. A person with a large sleep debt is much more vulnerable because the body cannot fully recover from day to day stresses and the immune system cannot fully defend against disease causing microorganisms.

Keep your distance. Some of the current viruses are so contagious you can get infected just by being close to people who sneeze. 

Don't infect others. If you get cold symptoms, you are most contagious during the first three days. Don't share food, drinks or dishes.

And most importantly, don't try to tough it out. Stay home, cover up and get plenty of rest. It is important to not try to resume your normal activities too soon. If you do, it could lead to reactivation of the virus, and you could suffer a relapse.

Some of our Star Eagle readers have commented they like to read about events such as family and school reunions, birthdays and anniversaries, and birth and wedding announcements. In order to read about these important things we need our faithful readers to pass along the information to us. 

If you have birthdays and anniversaries you would like include, or news to share please contact me via e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; by postal mail, P. O. Box 192, Geneva, MN 56035 or telephone, 507-256-4405.

This week’s birthdays and anniversaries include:

• Thursday, Oct. 17: Brynn Routh, Lucas Bailey, Pat Wayne, Dale Strenge, David Killian, Sherrie Dahl, Dustin Wayne, Pam & Rick Cook, Sidney & David Kasper, Andy & Mary Ditlevson.

• Friday, Oct. 18: Gordon Jensen, Carrie Nolan Allen, Deloris Nelson, Andreas Quinn Vu, Stan & Cindy Nelson, Randy & Cindy Horan, Tait & Jennifer Ingvaldson, Carol & Larry Cox.

• Saturday, Oct. 19: Robert William Pulley, Jody Johnson, Katie Ann Carlson, Jan Klocek Louks, Roger Larson, Jeanene Reese, Kristi Nelson, Everett Thompson, Barbara Olson, Esther Rodi, Jim & Laureen Hohansee.

• Sunday, Oct. 20: Kimberly Wangsness, Matthew Beckman, Shannon Smith, Diana Beckmann, Jenny Herbst, Erick Widlund, Gladys Winter, Casey Kunkel, Nicole Larson, Doris Scripture Steele, Rick Kelly, Adam Lang, Scott & Joni Groth, Laurie & DeWayne Jensen, Jim & Nancy Bottelson, Brad & Nicole Edwards.

• Monday, Oct. 21: Todd Utpadel, Brian Riley, Deb Mucha, Peter Benson, Natalie Kuehni, Steven F. Christenson, Diane & Dan Gallentine, John & Trisha Cyr.

• Tuesday, Oct. 22: Scott Sorenson, Jennifer Pence, Lyle Swearingen, Brian Johnson, Kelsey Wayne, Dave De Vriendt, Mabel Dobberstein, David Polzin, Colleen Thompson, Sage Tristan Lang, Clifford Coy, Diane Gallentine Pfieffer, Kailey Ann Christensen.

• Wednesday, Oct. 23: Jacklynn Kress, Marian Dahl, Gene Grubbish, Kimberly Kilian, Grant Ver Hey, Stewart Hatch, Rick & Lana Thompson, Dan & Tina Schmidt, Gary & Deb Nelson.

• Thursday, Oct. 24: Noelle Mae Brekke, her 4th; Jacob Keith Rigby, his 5th; Jeff Dobbertstein, Bobby Dobberstein, Joseph Bailey, Dan Willert, Eunice Hanson, Bob Wayne, Ashley Ashton, Gil & Kay Nelson.

• Friday, Oct. 25: Mavis Bartsch, Jady Beenken, Dean Van Hal, Charlotte Haberman, Heidi Crabtree Owen, Mikaela Krikava, Spencer & Barb Kubat, Dean & Sandy Jensen, Breanna & Timothy Breidenbach, Heidi & Jason Owen.

May you find joy and pleasure all around you on your special day!

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