Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ah-Choo! by Jennifer Ackerman

Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common ColdAh-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The structure of this book is to discuss particular topics or studies by using the interviews with different researchers and recording what they say. However, the researchers don't agree on a number of things. Also, there is a lot that's just general uncertain or nuanced in viral research. (Although this book was written 6 years ago, there's not a lot of new science on this yet.) The effect of this book structure is that it feels disorganized and not very informative.

But the appendix is actually pretty well organized and succinct. You could read the book backwards- read the appendix first for the most important and more certain evidence. Then you could either stop or go back and read the book to see where this evidence came from- the history and research that provided the information in the appendix. The author failed to discuss how antibacterial lotions can be very harmful, but possibly that's newer research.

My take-away is: wash your hands thoroughly with soap, mostly to avoid things that are worse than colds (because colds are actually pretty good for you in the scheme of things); if you get a cold, hydrate and eat chicken soup because it actually helps with the symptoms of a cold; over-the-counter stuff will only mask symptoms sometimes but do nothing to help shorten or avoid the cold; many medications are too dangerous for children, as is the risk of overdose to children from using more than one medication. If you're an adult go ahead and enjoy a hot toddy. Yum.

However, I have kids, and I feel like this failed to address my main issues: (1) How to know if the kids have a cold, a flu, or even something else? (2) How to keep a minor cold or flu from turning into some kind of infection in my kids that ends up requiring antibiotics (sinus or ear infection)? (3) How much to let them cough or try to suppress an excessive or nighttime cough with things such as honey?

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