Q: My daughter has a solo in the school Christmas program, but I'm afraid she's going to get sick and miss the performance due to the fact that half the kids in her class have colds. Would an immunity-boosting supplement help?
Jim: Most of us have seen people at the office downing vitamins, zinc, ginseng and other concoctions in an effort to fight off a cold. I turned to my friends on Focus on the Family's Physicians Resource Council for input on this question, and they agreed that trying to boost one's immune system is largely ineffective against colds. The runny nose and other symptoms we experience with a cold are not caused by the virus, but by its host. Our bodies naturally produce a number of chemicals to fight a cold, and those chemicals are what cause the headaches, the drippy nose and other unpleasant effects.
According to Jennifer Ackerman in her book "Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold" (Twelve, 2010), a runny nose and sinus headache are not signs of a weakened immune system. Rather, they're evidence that your immune system is already putting up a good fight. Trying to strengthen it with an over-the-counter concoction probably won't work. Immunity-boosting products could actually aggravate your symptoms.
The old adage is true: There's no cure for the common cold. The best advice for your daughter would probably be to wash her hands regularly, drink plenty of liquids and get lots of rest. Here's hoping that she'll be happy and healthy for her Christmas solo!
Q: My ex-husband and I divorced several years ago. Since that time, he has turned his life around. As a result, we've been dating again and I have a feeling he's going to "pop the question" on New Year's Eve. Do you think remarriage is a good idea in this case?
Dr. Greg Smalley, executive director of marriage and family formation: In a day when divorce is rampant and reconciliation is rare, a story like yours is amazing. And so, yes, we do think that remarriage is a good idea -- provided you can avoid the problems that led to your divorce in the first place.
You say your ex-husband has "turned his life around," which suggests that the divorce was primarily the result of his bad behavior. It's wonderful to hear that his attitudes have been transformed, but this doesn't mean you shouldn't proceed with caution. Change can be a slow process. In light of your history, it's important to make sure that you've seen concrete evidence of your husband's changed heart over time before you jump back into marriage. Don't set a timeline for moving forward until you're sufficiently reassured on this point.
Also, take a look at your own heart and motivations, and consider the role you may have played, however small, in the divorce. Have you sufficiently dealt with those issues? In addition, if you have children, they've already been impacted by your divorce, and you certainly don't want to make matters worse by remarrying and then splitting up again if things don't work out.
What you need most right now is the help and guidance of an experienced marriage counselor. He or she can help you both fully explore whether you're ready for remarriage and help you determine the best course of action. Try to find a counselor who is familiar with a relationship tool called "Prepare and Enrich." This test will help you and your ex-husband identify any lingering issues that you may need to address before moving ahead. Focus on the Family's Counseling Department can refer you to qualified marriage-and-family professionals in your area.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.