Friday, October 8, 2010


Publisher's Summary. Some colds are like mice, timid and annoying; others like dragons, accompanied by body aches and deep misery. In AH-CHOO!, Jennifer Ackerman explains what, exactly, a cold is, how it works, and whether it's really possible to "fight one off." 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, 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.

Review.  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!

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.


  1. Interesting info I am sure. Iam proof positive of those 2x a year colds it seems...not LOL

  2. Would be interesting to read this one

  3. Tis the season for Ah CHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Everyone in this house has a runny nose and we seem to play tag with each other's cold.

    Great review and nice to know what a simple recipe chicken soup can do for us all.