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Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold

Jennifer Ackerman.
Publisher Twelve  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 5.75 x 0.85 inches
ISBN 9780446541152
Pages/Publication Date 245/2010
Daedalus Item Code 42759
This item is not available.
Scientists call this the Golden Age of the Common Cold because Americans suffer up to a billion colds each year, resulting in 40 million days of missed work and school and 100 million doctor visits. Over the past decade researchers have also learned much about what cold viruses are, what they do to the human body, and how symptoms can be addressed. In this ode to the odious cold, medical science writer Jennifer Ackerman sifts through the chatter about treatments to find what works, what doesn't, and what can't hurt. She dispels such myths as a susceptibility to colds reflecting a weakened immune system, and tracks current research at world-renowned centers of cold research studies like the University of Virginia at Charlottesville.

"An entire arm of science—even a British research center called the Common Cold Unit (CCU)—dedicated to studying the common cold? Why not? Certainly an ailment that supports a multibillion-dollar industry of mostly quackery ought to inspire a certain amount of scientific interest. Indeed the common cold is far from being the stuffy subject one might expect. In the hands of gifted science writer Ackerman, the cold is addressed with dry wit while she covers every detail from soup (chicken, of course) to nuts (folk remedies). Only a science writer can find being intentionally inoculated with a cold virus and sequestered for a weekend entertaining. Among the lesser-known facts she reveals: colds are caused by more than 200 different viruses, one of which can even make you fat! What's more, building up one's immune system may exacerbate a cold's symptoms; and as for those trendy antibacterial soaps and lotions, they are worthless against cold viruses. Amid all this 'nasal gazing,' there is one folk remedy that may be worth considering: In Domestic Medicine (1772), William Buchan instructs, 'Go to bed, hang your hat on the foot of the bed, and continue to drink until you see two hats'."—Booklist (starred review)

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