What causes kidney stones (and what to do)
Stone disease has plagued humanity since ancient times. Kidney stones have been identified in Egyptian mummies. The Hippocratic oath describes their treatment: “I will not use the knife, not even verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.” Who gets kidney stones and why? The lifetime risk of kidney stones among adults in the US is approximately 9%, and it appears that global warming may be increasing that risk. (As the climate warms, human beings are more likely to get dehydrated, which increases the risk of stone formation.) There are four major types of kidney sto...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 17, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kevin R. Loughlin, MD, MBA Tags: Health Healthy Aging Kidney and urinary tract Source Type: blogs

Treating constipation with biofeedback for the pelvic floor
Constipation is often clinically defined as having three or fewer bowel movements a week. Sometimes this is about expectations; people generally feel like they’re not “healthy” if they don’t have a bowel movement every day. But three bowel movements a week can be normal for some people, especially if that has been their pattern for a long time. There are many other factors that affect how people perceive bowel movements. According to the Rome IV criteria of constipation often used in research, frequency alone doesn’t explain all complaints of constipation. Patients complaining of two or more o...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Judy Nee, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

Microbiome: The first 1,000 days
In the United States and other developed countries, we have seen a shift over the past several decades in the types of illness people struggle with. Public health campaigns around vaccination, sanitation, and judicious use of antibiotics have largely eradicated many infectious illnesses. As the nature of disease has shifted to inflammatory conditions, we’ve seen a striking increase in allergy and autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and multiple sclerosis. The microbiome — the varied and teeming colonies of gut bacteria inside of us — may be helping ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Allan Walker, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Family Planning and Pregnancy Inflammation Probiotics Source Type: blogs

Young children are swallowing objects twice as often as before
When my oldest daughter was 3 and my older son was 18 months old, I once entered the living room to find my daughter feeding my son quarters. She had found them between the cushions of the couch, where they had presumably fallen from my husband’s pants pockets. Luckily I intervened before any were swallowed, but it was a close call (after that, my husband had to empty his pockets at the door as soon as he came home). Children, especially children those under 5 years of age, often put things in their mouths that don’t belong there. Part of it is how they explore the world. Putting something in their mouth is as ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Safety Source Type: blogs

Big problems for big toe joints
Big toe joint problems aren’t fun, as many people know from personal experience. Red, swollen, or misshapen joints can be unsightly. Still worse, though, is the pain –– and sometimes the risk of immobility –– that accompanies big toe joint problems. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to help relieve pain and keep you from slowing down. Big toe 101 The big toe has two joints, but the one most vulnerable to problems is the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. It connects the first long bone (metatarsal) in the forefoot to the first bone of the big toe (phalanx). The MTP joint bends with eve...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 13, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Bones and joints Exercise and Fitness Foot Care Health Source Type: blogs

Undoing the harm: Tapering down from high-dose opioids
For many years, health care providers like me were told that we were undertreating pain and that pain was a vital sign that needed to be measured. Concurrently, we were reassured that opioids were a safe and effective way to treat pain, with very little potential for development of abuse. As a result, opioid prescriptions in the United States skyrocketed. A common way to compare opioids is to calculate their strength relative to morphine, called morphine milligram equivalents, or MMEs. In 1992, our country dispensed 25 billion MMEs of prescription opioids; by 2011, that number had reached 242 billion. Meanwhile, opioid-rel...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 10, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Weiner, MD Tags: Addiction Pain Management Risks and Prevention Source Type: blogs

Stool transplants are now standard of care for recurrent C. difficile infections
Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), also known as stool transplantation, is a procedure in which stool from a healthy donor is placed into the gut of a patient in order to treat a certain disease. FMT is not a new concept, but in the last six years it has become a standard-of-care therapy for the treatment of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). Treating infection with C. difficile Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a bacterium that is ever-present in our environment. Many people have C. diff in their bodies without issue; it is not the bacteria itself that makes you sick. However, under certain conditions,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jessica Allegretti, MD, MPH Tags: Health Infectious diseases Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

The latest deadly superbug — and why it’s not time to panic
I have to admit it: recent news reports about a newly described “superbug” are worrisome and at least a little bit terrifying. This time, it’s not a flesh-eating bacterium or drug-resistant tuberculosis — in fact, it’s not a bacterial infection at all. It’s a fungus called Candida auris (C. auris). If the first part of the name sounds familiar, that may be because other Candida species (such as Candida albicans, glabrata, and tropicalis) cause common vaginal and skin infections. They’re often called yeast infections and while quite bothersome, they only rarely cause serious illness...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 8, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Health trends Infectious diseases Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

5 ways we can help our children succeed
In the wake of the recent college admissions scandal, in which rich parents paid thousands or even millions of dollars to bribe coaches or have someone else take standardized tests for their children so that they could get into elite colleges, there has been a lot of discussion about admission to elite colleges — and about what it takes to succeed. All parents want their children to succeed in life. Going to an elite college can help, mostly in terms of networking and resume-building, but is that the ticket to success? Probably not. True success and happiness in life comes from being able to create, persevere, roll w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 7, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Intensive treatment of blood pressure helps prevent memory decline in older adults
This study, as well as the larger SPRINT study, also demonstrated that overall intensive treatment of blood pressure in older adults is safe. However, we do know that some individuals may develop dizziness, imbalance, and in rare instances strokes with intensive blood pressure lowering. For that reason, it is important to discuss your blood pressure management with your primary care physician and follow his or her recommendation. How do cardiovascular risk factors affect brain health? We have evidence from studies of the population, studies of brain scans, and studies of animals, that treatment of cardiovascular risk facto...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 6, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Gad Marshall, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Brain and cognitive health Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Memory Prevention Source Type: blogs

Going public with sobriety
Alcoholism is hardly a rare disorder in the United States. According to recent studies, 12.7% of adult Americans currently suffer from alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism; according to other studies, 29% will meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder at some point during their adult lives. If you add drugs to the mix, addiction (substance use disorder, including alcoholism) is even more common: it is estimated that in 2015, 20.8 million Americans met criteria for a substance use disorder within the prior year. Given how common this problem is, one might think addiction would be readily accepted by o...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Alcohol Source Type: blogs

The trouble with new drugs
When a drug is approved by the FDA, it may seem like it’s only a matter of time before some unexpected side effects are discovered. Perhaps it seems that way because it’s true! According to a study of all drugs approved between 2001 and 2010, the FDA announced alerts, warnings, or recalls on about one-third of them in the years after their approval. Some of the side effects were minor and easily managed. For example, there might be a warning to avoid taking a new medication at the same time as another medication. But sometimes the “side effect” is death. And that’s the case with a new warning ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

Baby boomers and hepatitis C: What ’s the connection?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that is spread through contact with infected blood. Hepatitis C infection can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Most people with acute hepatitis C eventually develop chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C usually does not cause symptoms, which is why most people with hepatitis C don’t know that they are infected. Left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Why screen baby boomers for hepatitis C? Why are we recommending screening of adults in the baby boomer generation? To understand this, it’s worth reviewing how we got here. In 199...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 1, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Raymond Chung, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Infectious diseases Screening Source Type: blogs

Spring training: Moving from couch to 5K
Need a little motivation and structure to ramp up your walking routine this spring? Want to wake up your workouts? Consider trying a couch-to-5K program. What is a couch-to-5K program? These free or low-cost coaching plans are designed to help would-be runners train for a 5-kilometer race, which is about 3.1 miles. The programs are available online, or as apps or podcasts. They typically feature timed walking and running intervals that gradually phase out the walking over a period of about nine weeks. Why try a couch-to-5K program? “The purpose of a couch-to-5K program is to give you time to acclimate and start to en...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 30, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Highly accurate test reveals recurring prostate cancer
After being treated for prostate cancer, some men will experience a rise in PSA levels suggesting that new tumors lurk somewhere in the body. Finding these tiny cancerous deposits before they grow and spread any further is crucially important. But it’s also a challenge, since the budding tumors might be too small to see with standard tools such as magnetic resonance imaging. Now scientists in California have published results with an experimental imaging technique that detects recurring prostate cancer with the best accuracy reported yet. Importantly, some of the unveiled tumors were “still curable with targete...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Living With Prostate Cancer HPK Source Type: blogs

TAVR: Aortic valve replacement without open-heart surgery
There has been a flurry of news recently about a procedure called trans-catheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for the treatment of the common heart condition aortic stenosis (AS). You may even know people who have had this procedure performed. What exactly is TAVR? And what’s all the excitement about? What is aortic stenosis? First, it’s important to understand the condition that TAVR is designed to treat, aortic stenosis. The aortic valve is the last structure of the heart through which blood passes before entering the aorta and circulating throughout the body. The aortic valve has three flaps, called leafl...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Pinak B. Shah, MD Tags: Health Heart Health Surgery Source Type: blogs

Mother ’s Day: Tools for coping when celebration brings pain
Mother’s Day is fast approaching. As an infertility counselor, I always greet the holiday with mixed emotions. I look forward to the lilacs in full bloom, the feeling that spring is finally here, and the chance to wish some of my clients a long awaited “Happy First Mother’s Day,” knowing that they struggled for years with infertility or recurrent miscarriage. However, I am also reminded of what a difficult day this is for many women –– not only those struggling to become moms. It’s hard for women who have lost their mothers, mothers who have lost children, women who placed children...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 27, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Fertility Infertility Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

Ease anxiety and stress: Take a (belly) breather
Quick: think of three things that make you feel anxious or stressed. Most of us have no trouble reeling off answers. And people who suffer from anxiety disorders — such as social anxiety, phobias, or generalized anxiety — may have a variety of triggers that send anxiety soaring. While belly breathing alone can’t fix deep-seated anxieties, it works well as a tool to help ease anxiety and garden-variety stress. Regularly engaging in belly breathing (or trying the mini strategy described below) can help you turn a fight-or-flight response into a relaxation response that’s beneficial to your health. How...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Stress Source Type: blogs

Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow
Did you know that adding color to your meals will help you live a longer, healthier life? Colorful fruits and vegetables can paint a beautiful picture of health because they contain phytonutrients, compounds that give plants their rich colors as well as their distinctive tastes and aromas. Phytonutrients also strengthen a plant’s immune system. They protect the plant from threats in their natural environment such as disease and excessive sun. When humans eat plant foods, phytonutrients protect us from chronic diseases. Phytonutrients have potent anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects. And epidemiological research...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 25, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

MitraClip: Valve repair device offers new treatment option for some with severe mitral regurgitation
Mitral valve regurgitation (MR), a condition in which the mitral valve does not close properly, allowing blood to leak back into the heart’s upper chamber, is the most common disease of the heart valves. It can cause symptoms such as cough, fatigue, and trouble breathing. The risk of MR increases with age. Until recently, there were only two methods of treatment for MR: medication and open-heart surgery. During this surgery, the surgeon accesses the heart by opening up the breastbone. He or she either repairs or replaces the mitral valve while a heart-lung machine takes over the job of the heart and lungs while the h...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 24, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tsuyoshi Kaneko, MD Tags: Health Heart Health Surgery Source Type: blogs

Activity: It all counts
This study included a wide variety of activities. We can discover an activity that we enjoy, and do it regularly. We can also work activity into our regular day. I saw a sign hanging on a door recently, a brightly colored advertisement: “Free Exercise Equipment Inside! Open This Door for Your Free Workout Machine!” The door led to the stairwell. And that’s the idea. Every little bit counts, so if you are blessed with the ability and the good health to move your body, do it! Park farther away from the entrance of stores and walk extra. Grab a basket, not a cart, and work your biceps while you shop. While w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 23, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Prevention Source Type: blogs

Infertility: Extra embryos –– too much of a good thing?
For infertility patients, an IVF cycle can feel like a numbers game. How many follicles are developing well? How many oocytes are retrieved? How many will fertilize? And most important, how many embryos will be ready to transfer into the womb? Although many people say “it only takes one,” I have found that most people going through in vitro fertilization (IVF) are hoping for several. Why do people hope for several embryos? If it only takes one, why hope for more? For those struggling with infertility, safety in numbers may feel heartening. Some families hope to have more than one child, and welcome the chance t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Fertility Infertility Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Eating breakfast won ’t help you lose weight, but skipping it might not either
Yet another study has dispelled the popular “you have to eat breakfast” myth, and I’m thrilled. The breakfast cereal aisle is the most nutritionally horrifying area of the supermarket, crawling with sugary carbs in all shapes and flavors, all disguised as health food. It’s true — eating breakfast is not associated with eating less nor with weight loss, which begs the question: can skipping breakfast help with weight loss? What does research tell us about eating breakfast? A plethora of intermittent fasting studies suggest that extending the overnight fast is indeed associated with weight loss,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 19, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Nutrition Source Type: blogs

The heart and science of kindness
Kindness (noun): the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate; a kind act. — English Oxford Living Dictionaries Ombudspeople like myself have a unique view of the institutions they serve. Some of us fondly refer to it as the “view from the underbelly” of our organizations. The urgent calls we get aren’t to share a recent act of kindness. Visitors who arrive at our offices often do so feeling under siege from less than kindly forces. We hear repeatedly of our visitors’ desire to be treated with kindness, and of the wish that they could themselves rise above unkindness to be their be...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Melissa Brodrick, MEd Tags: Mental Health Relationships Stress Workplace health Source Type: blogs

How to handle stress at work
If you’re currently working, you probably know what it feels like to be stressed on the job. A must-do project arrives without warning. Three emails stack up for each one you delete. Phones ring, meetings are scheduled, a coworker drops the ball on a shared assignment. How does your body react to work stress? Imagine for a moment that your boss has emailed you about an unfinished assignment (a stressor). Your body and mind instantly respond, activating a physical reaction called the fight-or-flight response. Your heart beats faster, your breath quickens, and your muscles tense. At the same time you might say to yours...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 17, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Nicole J. LeBlanc, MA Tags: Anxiety and Depression Stress Workplace health Source Type: blogs

What to do with that foam roller at the gym?
The foam roller is possibly the least intimidating piece of equipment in the gym. It’s light. It’s no-tech. And like most things in the gym, you’ve heard something about its benefits, seen a few people using it, and wonder if you should be doing the same. What is myofascial release? Foam rolling is a myofascial release technique. The fascia is a sheet of fibrous connective tissue made of collagen that surrounds muscles. It holds muscles in place and helps them glide through their range of motion, says Carina O’Neill, DO, medical director of Spaulding Outpatient Center–Braintree. Think of the r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Back Pain Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

5 reasons we need to help kids live “heads up” instead of “heads down”
I was recently at an accepted-students day at a local university with my daughter, and the president of the university spoke of how youth these days live a “heads down” life. We need them to be more “heads up,” he said. He is right. He is quite literally right that our youth are “heads down.” Our children and teens, like the rest of us, have their faces in their phones more often than not. We’ve grown used to it. Everywhere we go, kids are looking down at their phones and other devices. This could have real implications not just now, but for their future — because looking dow...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Is obesity a reason to avoid joint replacement surgery?
“Come back when you’ve lost 40 pounds.” That’s something obese patients have heard often when being evaluated for a hip or knee replacement for severe arthritis. And sometimes the recommendation is to lose even more — 50, 75, or even 100 pounds… as if that’s an easy or realistic prospect. As you might expect, patients hearing this often feel disappointed and disheartened. After all, most have already tried hard to lose weight with limited success. Their arthritis pain impairs their ability to exercise, and decreasing activity has contributed to their weight gain. So being told to ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Health Surgery Source Type: blogs

Brain-gut connection explains why integrative treatments can help relieve digestive ailments
During the 20th century, medicine became very good at compartmentalizing different systems of the body in order to understand them better. However, today we are increasingly realizing that different systems of the body are interconnected and cannot be completely understood in isolation. The brain-gut connection is one very important example of this phenomenon. Anatomy of the brain-gut connection What exactly is the connection between brain and gut? The brain sends signals to the digestive, or gastrointestinal (GI), tract via the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system and the parasympathetic (“rest...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 11, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Michelle Dossett, MD, PhD, MPH Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Digestive Disorders Health Mind body medicine Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Can you strong-arm diabetes?
There is a strong link between diabetes and fitness. Many studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes lose more muscle mass and strength over time than people with normal blood sugars. This is thought to be a major reason why diabetes is associated with functional limitation, impaired mobility, and loss of independence. Studies have also shown that combining aerobic and resistance training can not only improve blood sugars in people who have diabetes, but can also prevent diabetes from developing. For these reasons, scientists are very interested in the relationship between diabetes and fitness, teasing out the dif...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 10, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Easy daily ways to feel more connected
I’ve got some legitimate skills: in no particular order, making pesto, finding lost LEGO pieces, and having debates in my head. That last one might be my specialty. I work for myself and by myself, tumbling around thoughts and words all day. But it doesn’t stay at my desk. I get into internal beefs, turning imagined conversations and arguments over and over. I need to find ways to pull out of my head, to feel more connected and less isolated every day. Getting out of your head One difficulty is that it’s normal to be in your head. “It’s always there and comfortable. It’s reassuring to yo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Health Mental Health Mind body medicine Relationships Source Type: blogs

Will blue light from electronic devices increase my risk of macular degeneration and blindness?
Every day, retinal specialists are asked about the risks from blue light emitted from electronic devices. (Retinal specialists treat conditions affecting the retina, a thin tissue at the back of the eye that is responsible for vision.) Many people ask whether blue light will increase their risk of age-related macular degeneration and blindness. The short answer to this common question is no. The amount of blue light from electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, LCD TVs, and laptop computers, is not harmful to the retina or any other part of the eye. What is blue light? Blue light is visible light between 400 and...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 8, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David Ramsey, MD, PhD, MPH Tags: Eye Health Source Type: blogs

Lead exposure and heart disease
When we think about the health effects of lead contamination, the biggest worry is for babies and young children. Lead, a heavy metal that is widespread in the environment, can harm developing brains. But growing evidence suggests that low levels of lead in the blood may also raise the risk of heart disease in adults. Last year, a study in Lancet Public Health found a link between lead exposure and a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The data came from more than 14,000 people in the United States who were adults in the late 1980s. The association persisted after researchers controlled for many confounding f...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 5, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Environmental health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Discontinuation syndrome and antidepressants
Discontinuation and change are part of life. We all start and stop various activities. Jobs change, relationships change. So, too, may medical treatments, such as antidepressants that help many people navigate depression and anxiety. Planning changes in advance tends to make things easier and smoother. You may start a medication for treatment and discover that it’s not helping your particular medical issue. Or perhaps you’re having side effects. Or maybe your condition has improved, and you no longer need the drug. If so, working with your doctor to change or stop taking an antidepressant slowly may help y...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Christopher Bullock, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Addressing weight bias in medicine
You happen to be among the two-thirds of Americans with overweight and obesity (defined as a body mass index of 25 or greater), and you are just thrilled to go to your next doctor’s appointment, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, if you have a diagnosis of overweight or obesity, you might find the doctor’s office to be the least inviting place to be. Maybe you find that there are no chairs to accommodate you in the waiting room. When the medical staff takes your blood pressure, you might find that they struggle to find the right size cuff. You might feel as though you are weighed in a disrespectful fashion. Or maybe,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FACP, FTOS  Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Infertility: Other people ’s pregnancies
When you are having difficulty becoming or staying pregnant, it often seems as if everyone around you –– friends, family, colleagues –– is pregnant. How can you navigate your world and maintain your relationships while coping with the pain and isolation infertility so often brings? Support for navigating other people’s pregnancies In my experience, solid relationships survive infertility. It can be excruciatingly painful when you learn that a friend is pregnant. But if your relationship is based on mutual respect and caring, you will get through it. Trust this, while considering the suggestion...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Fertility Infertility Source Type: blogs

Vulvar health: Navigating the nether regions
As an obstetrician/gynecologist, I spend my days examining women’s reproductive organs. My patients come to my office with a variety of concerns, some of which can be grouped under the heading of vulvar health. However, many women do not feel comfortable discussing precisely what is bothering them. And rather than use the anatomically correct word — vulva — my patients often tell me, “I have a problem down there.” My job is to figure out what they mean, explain helpful points about vulvar and vaginal health, and empower them to understand their bodies. A look at the anatomy To begin, let&rsquo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 1, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Huma Farid, MD Tags: Health Sexual Conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Why the wheelchair? Could it be gout?
When Paul Manafort appeared in court for sentencing recently, he was in a wheelchair and pleaded for leniency, in part because “his confinement had taken a toll on his physical and mental health.” He reportedly had symptoms of depression and anxiety — but what was the health problem that put him in a wheelchair? According to multiple news reports, the answer is gout. Yes, that ancient disease you may have thought didn’t exist anymore has stricken Mr. Manafort. He joins the rising number of people in the country diagnosed with this common disease. What is gout? Gout is a cause of severe joint pa...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Health Inflammation Source Type: blogs

Safer surgery: Steps you can take
Chances are high that most of us will have a surgical procedure at some point during our lives. Estimates based on 2002 data in three states suggest Americans have a lifetime average of nine surgical procedures. In 2010 in the United States, there were an estimated 1.4 million inpatient procedures, ranging from childhood tonsillectomies, breast lumpectomies, and gallbladder removal to cataract surgeries, hernia repairs, and hip or knee replacements. And the rate of surgical procedures continues to rise. So it’s valuable to know what you can do to make safer surgery and a successful outcome more likely. How do I choos...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 28, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Susan Abookire, BSEE, MD, MPH, FACP Tags: Health Managing your health care Safety Surgery Source Type: blogs

A silver lining for migraine sufferers?
In this study, which followed nearly 75,000 women for 10 years, women with active migraine were 20% to 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes over the course of the study than women with no history of migraine. In addition, if the migraine condition improved and the headaches lessened, the chances of developing diabetes went up. This supports the notion that migraine is protective against developing diabetes, and this is not simply a chance association. Headache specialists had long observed that their migraine patient populations did not develop diabetes as frequently as the general population, so this finding was not...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 27, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul Rizzoli, MD Tags: Diabetes Headache Source Type: blogs

African American men respond better to treatments for advanced prostate cancer in clinical trials
Racial differences have long been evident in prostate cancer statistics. In particular, African American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer more often than white men, and they’re also nearly twice as likely to die of the disease. But new research also shows that African American men who receive the most advanced treatments for late-stage prostate cancer can live at least as long — or even longer — than their Caucasian counterparts. Why is this the case? Scientists are searching for an explanation. “The fact that African American men have better survival is of huge research interest,” said ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Living With Prostate Cancer Men's Health Prostate Health Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Preventing depression in pregnancy: New guidelines
While pregnancy and a child’s birth are often depicted in pastel tones, many women struggle with depression during this time. Up to 14% of women are diagnosed with depression during pregnancy. Far more report having symptoms of depression during pregnancy and the first year after birth. Now new guidelines published by the US Preventive Services Task Force in the Journal of the American Medical Association provide the first-ever recommendations for preventing perinatal depression. How can the new guidelines help? Depression can be difficult during any period of life. Its main symptoms — a depressed or hopel...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd Tags: Health Mental Health Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Cleaner living: Plant-friendly is planet-friendly
Climate change is in the news more and more, and the projections from virtually all of the world’s climate scientists are becoming increasingly dire. Almost daily, we are confronted with images of extreme weather patterns, disease outbreaks, and the loss of certain species. It is almost biblical in proportion. Most poignant, to me, are the distressing images of starving, displaced polar bears whose icy habitats are melting away. Many of the things that we can do to prevent or slow climate change are intuitive, difficult as they may be to put into practice: conserve energy, drive less, elect politicians that are dedic...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 25, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Environmental health Food as medicine Source Type: blogs

Cancer treatment: Is a clinical trial right for you?
Clinical trials are research studies that test a new drug or therapy in patients who have a disease. These studies are classified as phase I, II, or III depending on their purpose. Phase I: These initial, small studies test promising new drugs that effectively kill cancer cells in laboratory experiments. The goal is to understand the safe dose and capture early evidence of benefit. Phase I trials may be open to patients with any type of cancer, or only certain types of cancers more likely to respond to specific drugs. Generally, fewer than 50 patients are enrolled. Phase II: Once a phase I trial identifies a saf...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Guru P. Sonpavde, MD Tags: Breast Cancer Health Treatments Source Type: blogs

A practical guide to the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet has received much attention as a healthy way to eat, and with good reason. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers, depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function. In January, US News and World Report named it the “best diet overall” for the second year running. What is the Mediterranean diet? The traditional Mediterranean diet is based on foods available in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The foundation for this healthy diet includes an ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 21, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Over-the-counter cold and flu medicines can affect your heart
As the cold and flu season continues this year, it is important to be aware that many of the most commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) remedies for congestion, aches, pains, and low-grade fevers contain medicines that can have harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. Chief among these medications are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and decongestants. NSAIDs and your heart Certain NSAIDs are associated with a small increase in the relative risk for developing a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, increased blood pressure, and blood clots. NSAIDs relieve pain and inflammation by inhib...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Mark Benson, MD, PhD Tags: Cold and Flu Drugs and Supplements Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

How to prevent poisonings in children — and what to do if they happen
March 17–March 23, 2019 is National Poison Prevention Week Every day in the United States, over 300 children under the age of 20 are seen in an emergency room because of poisoning, and two of them die. What is most heartbreaking is that poisonings are preventable — and quick action can save lives when they happen. Poisoning prevention Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics to prevent poisoning in children: Keep medicines, cleaning and laundry products, paints and varnishes, as well as pesticides, out of sight and reach of children. If possi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 19, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Prevention Safety Source Type: blogs

How long does a joint replacement last?
Joint replacement surgery represents one of the biggest and most life-changing advances in modern medicine. It has meant the difference between disability from crippling arthritis and nearly normal mobility for millions of people in recent decades. The hip and knee are, by far, the most commonly replaced joints, and they have the most reliable results. In the US each year, more than 300,000 hips and 700,000 knees are replaced, and the results are generally good. But every time a joint is replaced, an important question looms: how long will it last? It’s a fair question. After all, no one wants to go through the risk,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Bones and joints Health Surgery Source Type: blogs

Something else to avoid in pregnancy: Phthalates
Most pregnant women know that they should avoid things like alcohol and tobacco while they are pregnant, as well as certain foods like sushi and soft cheeses. But not many pregnant women think about avoiding lipstick, perfume, or lotions — and it turns out that they probably should. The problem is a type of chemical called phthalates. It’s nearly impossible to avoid phthalates entirely, as they are quite literally everywhere. They are in plastic products including packaging, in toys and garden hoses, as well as in cosmetics and other personal care products. They can act like hormones and interfere with male gen...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Environmental health Family Planning and Pregnancy Source Type: blogs

Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, part 2
Update In March 2019, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) released new guidelines that suggest that most adults without a history of heart disease should not take low-dose daily aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke. Based on the ASPREE, ARRIVE, and ASCEND trials, the ACC/AHA guidelines concluded that the risk of side effects from aspirin, particularly bleeding, outweighed the potential benefit. The new guidelines do not pertain to people with established cardiovascular disease, in whom the benefits of daily aspirin have been found to outweigh the risks. ___________...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Deepak Bhatt, MD, MPH Tags: Heart Health Prevention Source Type: blogs