Not a week without a sneeze


Last autumn (September 2022) I made a bet. I said “We’re not gonna make it through Winter with 7 continuous days of no coughing, sneezing or running noses.” And so I started to keep track of the cold symptoms in our family of four and every night I would note them down in a form.

To be honest, the pattern I found in the data surprised me.

Did you win the bet???

Of course I won the bet. But it was a close call!

How to read this chart

The x-axis shows the date (I tracked the symptoms every day) and the y-axis shows the “score”. Each person can score between 0 and 3 points, which translates to 0 = “no symptoms” and 3 = “coughing & sneezing & running nose”. So the maximum score per day across all 4 persons is 12. We never achieved that maximum score though :) For each person you see a coloured area that is bigger the more symptoms that person showed. And where the chart is the largest in height, we collectively suffered the most symptoms. Conversely, where the chart is completely flat, we were all completely free of symptoms.

Hover of the legend to highlight a particular person, or hover within the chart to show the values for a given person on that particular day. (I’m not giving names on purpose, feel free to try to figure out who is who in the data.)

I’m surprised that the low points were in December and January, while the months after that showed the highest amount of symptoms. As you can see, there are two periods during winter, when we almost made it to a week without any symptoms…

Let’s zoom into the one period, where we came closest. This period ranges from 2022-12-01 until 2023-01-15 and is depicted in the chart below.

Too bad. That one person (yes, you Person 4!) ruined the chance of our one-week-streak. But I’m not telling you who that was… I’m innocent, believe me!

So I won the bet!

I hear you asking why I kept tracking after spring came on and then even when summer started. Well… As I logged our data every night, I had a hunch that we did not have a full 7 days without symptoms. And so I thought I’d keep tracking until we’d make it! It looks like we don’t even achieve the 7 days during summer. But we’ll see that in a couple of months, when summer is over and the data cycles a whole year. Maybe then this data will find another life in a new chart-type (something circular?). Let me know if you have ideas how to chart the full-year-data - I’m always happy to chat about dataviz!

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