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. They've also learned over the past decade much more 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, Jennifer Ackerman sifts through the chatter about treatments - what works, what doesn't, and what can't hurt. She dispels myths, such as susceptibility to colds reflects a weakened immune system. And she tracks current research, including work at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, a world-renowned center of cold-research studies, where the search for a cure continues.
©2010 Jennifer Ackerman (P)2010 Tantor
"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)
I will start by saying I am a family doctor who also does urgent care and feel I am an expert on the common cold. It is one of my absolute favorite topics and I devote a fair amount of my professional time reading on it, learning about it, making money on it, etc. I was overjoyed to hear about this title.
Having listened to it on my way to work for several days I would have a few concerns
1. the narrator- I find her voice just a little to silly and doesn't always line up with the topic at hand. She can get very droney during certain passages in the book. She also mispronounces several medical terms which I find enormously frustrating since she is a professional narrator and it would not have been difficult to ask for help from the author or any MD on any of those terms
2. there a few factual mistakes in the book, I think her treatment of pseudoephedrine and afrin were too short in one of the most important sections of the book, and she should have been more detailed of the history of the crystal meth problem with pseudoephedrine
3. this is petty, but I found the historical quotes at the beginning of the chapters really cumbersome to listen to.
That being said, this was a fascinating review of all the recent research on the common cold, an entertaining insight into how the common cold is researched, a pretty good catalogue of all the current remedies, traditional and alternative. Some of the ways she described the immune systems that go in to the common cold have dramatically altered the way I explain the cold infection process to my patients and I will even recommend the book to some of my patients- although it is written on a pretty high technical reading level
all in all, I certainly recommend this book to doctors, and to anyone who finds the cold as fascinating as I do.
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