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Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold Hardcover – September 2, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* 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.” --Donna Chavez

Review

"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)." ---Booklist Starred Review --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; 1 edition (September 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044654115X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446541152
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,480,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mary Bookhounds VINE VOICE on August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I don't think I will ever see the cure of the common cold in my lifetime, but this book makes me feel better about them and the fact that there is not much you can do but rest and recover. And everything your mom always told you is pretty much true. My mother always said to keep your hands away from your face, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, drink lots of water and have some soup. This book shows you that mom always did know best. Oh, and keep away from small children, they are walking germ factories.

Some of the things in this book are truly scary. I mean how often do you think about cleaning out your washing machine? Just think about washing your underwear and where you wear those underthings. Yes, pretty gross. The author goes into detail about the history and treatments that are known to work and are worth buying although, so far, not much.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By LegalBeagle on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
According to Jennifer Ackerman, author of Ah-Choo, the average adult will suffer approximately 200 colds in a lifetime with each one occurring about twice a year. This translates into about five years of cold symptoms and a full year in bed. That is a lot of Kleenex tissues!

In Ah-Choo, Ackerman investigates how colds are transmitted; the latest research developments for preventing/curing the "common" cold; and the best treatment of cold symptoms. Unfortunately, much of the medical research detailed by Ackerman does not provide significant hope for cure, prevention, or even treatment of a cold. Rather it appears that due to the cold's evolving nature a cure is long way off. Moreover, the best ways to prevent a cold are the low tech methods: engaging in frequent hand washing, refraining from touching/contaminating one's face; and avoiding children (who are the frequent bearers of cold viruses) - which is, of course, highly impractical for parents and teachers. As for treating a cold, a single ibuprofen (or other analgesic), rest, and maybe chicken soup are all that are recommended. Counter intuitively, a cold victim should think twice before trying to build up his/her immune system. One take away from Ah-Choo is that "cold symptoms do not result from the destructive effects of viruses . . . [rather the symptoms are] in response to the presence of a virus [that] the body sets in motion." In other words, the immune system is battling the virus by creating the symptoms that make one miserable!

Overall, Ah-Choo does an excellent job of translating technical medical research into a highly readable format for lay readers.

Publisher: Twelve (September 2, 2010), 256 pages.
Advance review copy provided courtesy of the publisher.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book provides a natural history of the common cold. Ackerman is an author and science journalist who has endured her fair share of colds over the years, and even enrolled in cold virus studies in the interests of science. In this book, she has collated a wide variety of information summarizing current scientific understanding of colds, how they are transmitted, how they produce symptoms, and the efficacy of various cold remedies. The book is written for general audiences but contains numerous references to original sources, especially peer-reviewed scientific literature, in the end notes.

This book is fascinating as well as informative. Ackerman provides a description not only of various aspects of cold viruses, but also an overview of the history of scientific research on colds, how and why volunteers were persuaded to be infected with cold viruses in order to further our understanding of them. She debunks a few myths about colds, such as their being spread by recirculating air in airplanes, and emphasizes the results on hand-to-face transmission. She reviews research on cold remedies, pointing out deficiencies in research methodology as well as overstated claims. Overall, this is an informative and engaging book, well worth reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
AH-CHOO! THE UNCOMMON LIFE OF YOUR COMMON COLD comes from a scientist who addresses common misconceptions about colds, offers the latest research, and tells what works and what doesn't, in treatment options. Facts, fiction and fun permeate a history and health guide to the common cold, making this a fine pick for any general lending library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard the author on NPR and instantly captured my attention. Cold is a part of my family (2 kids) once school starts. Did not have great expectations of the book; but whatever limited expectations I had off the book, it delivered.

Well, my objective of the book was to understand cold better so can reduce the number of times our family members get sick. Unless you are a medical professional, the only reason probably you are thinking of reading this book is because of the nuisance this cold in your home.

Did you know (and ways to mitigate)

> What causes sore throat?
> Does green mucus means infection?
> What is cough?
> How old are you? and How often do you get cold?
> Do you get cold more in winter?
> Fatigue's relationship with cold?
> Does sleep get in bed with cold virus?
> Even interesting correlation between wealthy childhood vs non wealthy childhood.

While the conventional theories of sneeze on your sleeves, use sanitizer etc are known to everybody,the book emphasized the power of hand - eye - nose combination that seems to be the primary transmission source. As a direct consequence of reading this book, whenever someone in my home came with a cold, have been using lysol wipes to wipe the door knobs, faucets, TV remotes, switches,sofa and so on...Takes about 5-10 min and I am certain has reduced cold instances in my home.

Worth the price and certainly worth the time! A MUST READ IF YOU HAVE SCHOOL GOING KIDS.
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