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March 16, 2018

Weekend reads: Turns out, you can catch the same cold twice

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Got a stomachache? Sniff some alcohol. If you're nauseated, sniffing an alcohol pad might be a more effective treatment than the anti-nausea drug Zofran, according to a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. For the study, researchers assessed 120 patients with nausea who were asked to follow one of three regimens: Sniff an alcohol pad and take Zofran, sniff an alcohol pad and take an oral placebo, or take Zofran and sniff saline solution. The researchers found that, about a half-hour after treatment, the patients who sniffed the alcohol pads and took an oral placebo had a greater reduction in nausea levels than the other two groups.

    Even a little bit of light in your bedroom could increase your risk of depression. Just a little bit of light exposure at night could increase your risk of depression, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. For the study, researchers monitored nearly 900 elderly Japanese people for two years, tracking their sleeping patters, depression symptoms, and—using a portable light meter attached to study participants' beds—the light level of their bedrooms. The researchers found that participants who were exposed to more than five lux of light (equivalent to the brightness of a streetlamp shining through a window at night) while sleeping had higher rates of depression than those who were exposed to less than five lux while sleeping. Even after accounting for factors such as blood pressure, diabetes, and sleeping/waking patterns, those exposed to more than five lux of light while sleeping had a 65% greater chance of developing depression after two years.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    Think you can't catch a cold you've already had? Think again. A reader asks the New York Times' "Ask Well" columnist Richard Klasco whether a person can catch the same cold twice. It turns out, yes, you can—but there's a decent chance you won't, according to Klasco. On the one hand, more than half of people exposed to a cold virus as part of a controlled study produced enough antibodies to withstand subsequent infection. However, study participants who had a "less robust antibody response" succumbed to the same cold again. But more to the point, Klasco points out that "while infection with a cold virus can protect against reinfection with that same virus, the existence of hundreds of different types of cold viruses means that we will always be susceptible to catching colds."

    The rise and fall of Toys 'R' Us. After Toys "R" Us recently filed for bankruptcy, the Washington Post's Michael Rosenwald took a look at the history of the toy empire. What became Toys "R" Us began as a baby furniture store in Washington, D.C., in the late 1940s, but it evolved into a toy store when founder Charles Lazarus realized toys were a more lucrative business. Lazarus tried out several names for the business before settling on its now-famous moniker, and he based the stores' design off of supermarkets: long aisles stacked with a wide variety of options. But in the 1990s, competitors came into what had once been an exclusive domain, and, after Lazarus retired in 1994, the company was sold off to private equity firms.

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