No easy cure for battling the common cold

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By Cheryl Steenerson

First, a little explanation. Last week’s column was supposed to be printed the week before, but the paper got too full of news. So, my Thanksgiving thank you was one week late. Sorry. Now, let me tell you all about my Thanksgiving.
I’ve shared Thanksgiving with my neighbor family for over a decade. Blood relation or no, we’re family. It’s always fun and filled with love and good food. This year I missed it. I also missed the Humane Society’s Giant Rummage Sale and all the fun and work that goes with it. Missing these weren’t so bad because there is always next year.
What I really missed was a visit from my brother and sister-in-law. I always go up to Indiana to visit them and everyone else. I invite them down every time I go up. So, the first time in 16 years that they planned a visit down here, to the farm, and I had to cancel.
The cause of all this upheaval was a little bug that got way bigger. A cold that metamorphosed into the flu and finished up as pneumonia in both lungs. It’s not something that I ever want to repeat.  
From now on when I get a bad cold or sinusitis, I promise that if I ever “go green” again, I will go to the doctor, right then. I still would have gotten miserable, but not for so long and would probably have skipped the pneumonia.
Now, in the hopes of keeping even one person from going through such yuk, I’ve researched some easy things to help identify the difference between the cold and flu.
WebMD can give you all the below information and more, so study up.
A cold is basically short term (three to four days worse, then better within seven days) starting with a slightly sore throat, with a little coughing, a little fatigue, stuffy nose, sniffles and sneezing. It comes on fairly slowly. If it doesn’t leave as quickly as it came on, it’s probably allergies or sinusitis. Now compare that with the flu.
The flu hits fast and hard and it feels like it was an 18-wheeler that flattened you. Everything tastes like sawdust. You can’t drink enough water to quench your thirst. Fever and chills come and go frequently, along with fatigue and every muscle in your body aches. Headaches are prominent and frequent along with nausea.
You become a mucus machine. Chest discomfort is exacerbated by coughing. The results of that coughing ranges from mother of pearl to clover green. Recurring fever every other day and shortness of breath should send you for a chest x-ray to see if you have pneumonia.
Neither cold nor flu can be helped with antibiotics, but they can with anti-virals. Let me say that again to make sure you know, colds and flu will not be cured with antibiotics. Some of the symptoms you suffer can be reduced by them.
For the flu, anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu or Relenza taken within 24-48 hours of onset, will help tremendously. The flu can turn into pneumonia, which can make a crackling sound in your lungs when you breathe.
For the cold, just eat right, sleep right, wash your hands a lot, take some aspirin, try some natural cures like grandma’s chicken noodle soup and drink lots of water to flush out your system.
Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and the best way to prevent illness is to keep your hands away from your face! Don’t touch your face, nose, eyes or mouth with your hands unless you just washed your hands.
Now, I’m going to disinfect the house, again, just to make sure no little bug found a place to hibernate. Forget frankincense and myrrh, I’m going full on white vinegar! Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News.