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Body Signs:
From Warning Signs to False Alarms...How to Be Your Own Diagnostic Detective

by Joan Liebmann-Smith and Jacqueline Egan

      Ever noticed anything strange about your body? Ever wondered if this was just a simple normal variant or a subtle sign of an underlying disease? Well, you’re not alone, and Joan Liebmann-Smith and Jacqueline Egan have put together an informative book about these "body signs" that will answer the questions so many people have about the strange and often quirky human body. From those prematurely grey hairs to your slightly discolored toenails, if you have a question about a bodily oddity chances are this book can help, while possibly saving you a costly and time-consuming trip to the doctor’s office.

The authors take you through every major body system, describing the more common signs and symptoms that people experience and suggesting possible causes for each. Most of these are benign and considered "normal," but they are careful to point out the potential serious causes and what else to look for if it’s a concern. Each section is well- demarcated in a quick-reference way that allows the book to be read section by section rather than in sequence front to back. The text is interspersed with "signposts" in the margins and breaks that are marked in an attention-grabbing manner. These signposts are used to identify healthy signs (things that are normal), warning signs (things that should be mentioned to your doctor), danger signs (things that require immediate attention) and signs of the times, which are historical anecdotes about the human body. The signposts are an excellent addition and used to good effect by the authors. Although the authors aren’t medical experts, they start the book by citing a long panel of experts who were consulted during the writing. This is another plus considering the vast amount of mainstream medical literature that is not supported by the medical community. The reader can feel confident knowing that what they’re reading is backed by credentialed experts.

Medical jargon is kept to a minimum and when used the authors do a good job of defining each term without forcing the reader to refer to a complicated glossary. Overall the text is kept at an appropriate reader lever and is easy to understand. When attributing body signs to significant medical problems, they do a good job of pointing out the common causes like metabolic syndrome and lactose intolerance. However, they also seem to frequently mention very rare disorders and this is the book’s only drawback. Rarely do people ever have to be worried that they have Miescher-Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome, but the mere mention of this condition may trigger unnecessary concern in the reader. There are other examples and I think these medical "zebras" could have been kept to a minimum. Other than that, this book is well-written, well-intended and serves a good purpose for anyone who has a strange "body sign" that has generated either concern or curiosity.

The Book

December 26, 2007
055380507X / 978-0553805079
Health / Self-Help
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The Reviewer

John Washburn
Reviewed 2008
NOTE: Reviewer John Washburn is the author of When Evil Prospers.
© 2008