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The Smart Approach
By Michael Anft
Stephen Teret's quest to make gun violence a public health issue and save lives with safer firearms.
A User's Guide to the Common Cold
By Brennen Jensen
Expert advice on how to survive the season of sniffles and sore throats.
A Better Me
By Greg Rienzi
Requests from teens for body and mind enhancements prompt conversations about ethical guidelines.


Expert Advice
Why is it so hard to break a bad habit?
Ten Things
10 things that used to be bad for you.
Ask the Past
Hilarious health advice from yesteryear.
New findings in health, including the link between energy drinks and risky behavior, tips to protect your ACL, and how learning a new skill boosts our brain.
News from the cutting edge of research: Picking a Mars spacemate; a faster-acting antidepressant; spray-on solar cells.
With Daniel L. Buccino of the Johns Hopkins Civility Initiative.
Just Curious
How do I choose a healthy sweetener?
Apps, gadgets, and other innovations that are advancing health and health science.
Christina Bethell on the new science of thriving.
Book Report
What you should be reading.
How acupuncture and massage helped Karen King walk again.

Letter from the Editor

Catherine Pierre, Editor-in-Chief
Catherine Pierre

At the start of each school year, my daughters bring home a flier explaining when we should or shouldn’t send a sick kid to school.

Fever? Keep them home. Runny nose? Clear to come in. While I was going through the list of symptoms, it occurred to me that a lot of adults could use such a guide for themselves. If your workplace is anything like mine, people drag themselves in sneezing, coughing, and blowing noses instead of staying in bed where they belong. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

Why do we do it? When should we stay at home and rest, and when should we tough it out? Does pushing ourselves too hard prolong our illness? Do we risk spreading our germs to our otherwise healthy co-workers, or is it already too late? I realized that I didn’t know the answers to a lot of these questions, and that I allowed anecdotes, common myths, and some wishful thinking to influence my behavior. Surely snacking on chewable vitamin C tablets will keep illness at bay, right? (Wrong.)

One of the perks of being a magazine editor is that we get to turn our own questions into articles—which is just what we did. We asked Johns Hopkins doctors, nurses, and alternative medicine practitioners to tell us what they know—and what science knows—about colds. Our “User’s Guide to the Common Cold” [p. 24] explores everything from how to tell a cold from the flu and what treatments actually work, to what you can learn from the color of your snot and how to know when your cold has turned into something much worse, like pneumonia.

Read our User’s Guide and head into cold season armed with facts (and plenty of fluids). Stay well. And let us know how it goes via a comment at