From one of America’s most acclaimed science writers comes an entertaining look at the common cold — including the best advice on prevention and reducing symptoms.
Some colds are like mice, timid and annoying; others like dragons, accompanied by fever 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 the average Australian suffers from up to six colds each year, resulting in millions of hours of missed work and school and thousands of 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, 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 centre of cold research studies, where the search for a cure continues.
Did you know this about the common cold:
- Antibiotics have no effect on colds
- antibacterial soaps, shampoos, and lotions have no effect on cold germs
- colds are most contagious during the first two to four days after symptoms appear
- cold viruses spread mostly through the nose and eyes and hands (not saliva) – so when a sick person shakes someone’s hand and that person touches her nose or eye, the virus makes its happy leap
- viruses survive on bank notes ... For weeks!
- the germiest jobs are teacher, accountant, banker, radio DJ, doctor, TV producer, consultant, publicist(!) and lawyer