Book review: Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent’s Guide by Paul Ehrlich MD & Larry Chiaramonte MD
There are a surprising number of doctors who combine acute medical insight with literary flair. Think of Conan Doyle or Robert Bridges and, in the present day, the psychiatrist Anthony Daniels who writes under the pseudonym of Theodore Dalrymple. Unfortunately, Drs Ehrlich and Chiaramonte, with the help of non-physician Henry Ehrlich, do not come into that category.
I suppose the misplaced apostrophe in the title should have given it away (but I must admit I only noticed it when starting this review). Maybe the title itself (chosen, as they say in the introduction, to make the book appear higher in Google searches) should have been a warning. But the truth is, there’s just not that much out there for parents, like us, trying to learn more about this wheezing, gasping, sucker of joy and spontaneity and excitement from the lives of our children. God, I hate asthma. To see a son whose dearest wish is to launch himself through an assault course of jumps and rolls and bounces in a parkour (free running) course, with all the bounce and athleticism and fearlessness that being an eleven-year-old boy brings with it, reduced to wheezing, coughing, blue pump puffing helplessness is to know the helplessness of love: I would take this all myself, and willingly (I’m not that likely to go bouncing round a parkour course anyway!) but I cannot.
So, in common with many other parents, we’re trying to find out more about this disease. Son number 2 has the blue pump and the brown pump, he has the peak flow meter, and rather than getting better, it seems to be getting worse. Now, we’re trying to understand, to learn, and while this book is poorly written and produced, needlessly repetitive (we know you think people should resort to allergists, you’ve told us fifteen times already) and directed very much towards the US, it does contain some useful information about how the disease works, how a runny nose may not, in fact, be a cold but a sign of the underlying allergy of which an asthma attack is the acute episode in an ongoing chronic condition, but the useful information could have been contained in a book about a third the length.
If anyone has any recommendations for books about asthma for parents, I would be grateful to receive them.