Managing the new normal: Actively help your family weather the pandemic
When the pandemic first began earlier this year, it seemed like if we could just hunker down until perhaps summer, things would get better and we’d be able to get back to life as usual (or at least something similar to life as usual). We were in survival mode: we cut corners and made do, broke some parenting rules, and otherwise made choices we would never usually make. Because that’s what you do when you are in survival mode. It’s now very clear that the pandemic is here for at least this school year, and survival mode is taking on a whole new meaning. It’s time to make new habits and routines spec...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 25, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Behavioral Health Children's Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Lifestyle medicine for all: Healthy food comes first
“Lifestyle medicine is only for rich people, right?” a colleague asked me several years ago, questioning my involvement in this relatively new field of medicine that guides people toward healthy habits. This has been a common misperception, for sure. But across the US, a revitalized brand of health activism is intent on bringing lifestyle medicine to a broader range of people. This is backed by a new effort from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to engage communities most affected by chronic disease. The first pillar of healthy lifestyle: Food is medicine Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based practic...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 24, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Food as medicine Health Health care disparities Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

CBD for chronic pain: The science doesn ’t match the marketing
If you ask health care providers about the most challenging condition to treat, chronic pain is mentioned frequently. By its nature, chronic pain is a complex and multidimensional experience. Pain perception is affected by our unique biology, our mood, our social environment, and past experiences. If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain, you already know the heavy burden. People are looking for novel, nonaddictive ways to treat pain Given the ongoing challenges of chronic pain management coupled with the consequences of the opioid epidemic, pain management practitioners and their patients are searching for eff...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 23, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Shafik Boyaji, MD Tags: Back Pain Marijuana Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Cough and cold season is arriving: Choose medicines safely
With the summer winding down and fall moving in, colder weather will arrive soon — along with cold and flu season. Millions of Americans get the common cold each year, often more than once. To counter coughs and runny noses, many will turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medications available for relief without a prescription. Heading to the pharmacy for some relief? Read this first While OTC medicines do not cure or shorten the common cold or flu, they can ease some symptoms. Finding a product that fits your needs, however, may not be so straightforward. A recent study evaluated brand-name OTC medications marketed as cold...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 22, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katsiaryna Bykov, PharmD, ScD Tags: Cold and Flu Drugs and Supplements Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

Discrimination, high blood pressure, and health disparities in African Americans
Over the past few months, we have all seen the results of significant disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high levels of unemployment, and civil unrest driven by chronic racial injustice. These overlapping waves of societal insult have begun to bring necessary attention to the importance of health care disparities in the United States. Direct links between stress, discrimination, racial injustice, and health outcomes occurring over one’s lifespan have not been well studied. But a recently published article in the journal Hypertension has looked at the connection between discrimination and increased...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 21, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Chester Hedgepeth, III, MD, PhD Tags: Health care disparities Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

Shorter dream-stage sleep may be related to earlier death
This study showed an association between reduced REM and increased mortality, but it did not demonstrate the cause of the association. REM deprivation could independently contribute to the development of numerous other diseases. The results apply more clearly to older adults, given that the age groups studied averaged in the 50s and 70s. Short REM may also be a marker of a sick or aging brain; less REM sleep has already been tied to a greater risk of dementia. Overall, ensuring adequate REM sleep is important to protecting your long-term health. Getting better sleep in middle age and beyond Maintaining good sleep should re...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 18, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lawrence Epstein, MD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Fatigue Memory Sleep Source Type: blogs

Time for flu shots — getting one is more important than ever!
Wondering when to get your flu shot? The best time is before influenza (flu) starts circulating widely. For most people, September or October is ideal for protection through the whole flu season, as the immune response from the vaccine wanes over time. And while changes and restrictions due to COVID-19 may make getting a flu vaccine less convenient for some this year, the pandemic makes it more important than ever. Why do I need to get a flu vaccine yearly? Influenza A and Influenza B cause most cases of flu in humans. Both have many strains that constantly change, accumulating genetic mutations that disguise them from the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 17, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elise Merchant, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Coronavirus and COVID-19 Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A feel-good message about a diabetes drug
This 60-second advertisement for Trulicity, a medication for diabetes, is one of the most feel-good medication commercials I’ve ever seen. The narrator never uses the scare tactic of so many other ads, listing the terrible things that could happen if you don’t take the treatment. Instead, from start to finish, music, images, and spoken words deliver empowering, encouraging messages focused on helping your body to do what it’s supposed to be doing despite having diabetes. There’s a lot of good information here, but as in most direct-to-consumer health marketing there’s also some that’s mi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 16, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Diabetes Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

6 all-natural sex tips for men
If you believe those upbeat, seductive advertisements, men only need to pop a pill to awaken their dormant sex life. Whether the problem is erectile dysfunction (ED) — the inability to maintain an erection for sex — or low libido, ED medications appear to be the quickest and easiest solution. While these drugs work for most men, they are not right for everyone. ED drugs are relatively safe, but can cause possible side effects such as headaches, indigestion, and back pain. Plus, some men may not want their sex life dependent on regular medication, or simply can’t take them because of high or low blood pres...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 15, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Dental Health Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Men's Health Source Type: blogs

Learning to live well with a persistent illness
When we get an acute illness like the flu or a cold, we feel sick for a week or two and then get back to our usual lives. This is how illness is “supposed” to go. But what happens when illness doesn’t fit this bill? What do patients with chronic conditions like diabetes or multiple sclerosis, or with persistent symptoms of Lyme disease or long-haul COVID-19, do when they can’t go back to their normal lives? Having suffered from the latter two — tick-borne illnesses that have plagued me for two decades, and a case of COVID-19 that took four months to shake — I’ve learned a few lesso...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 14, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jennifer Crystal, MFA Tags: Fatigue Source Type: blogs

5 takeaways for returning to school
School districts in the United States are in a period of profound uncertainty, which will likely persist throughout the 2020–2021 school year. Many agree that remote teaching in spring 2020 was piecemeal and sub-optimal. Now, despite a stated universal commitment to full-time, in-person, high-caliber education, many states have rising rates of COVID-19, and teachers and parents share deep health concerns. Already we have witnessed a rapid and seismic transition from the beginning of this summer — in June, many schools planned to open full-time for in-person learning — to near-universal adoption of hybrid ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 11, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alan Geller, MPH, RN Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Parenting Source Type: blogs

Getting the best treatment for your fibromyalgia
Imagine being in pain and having your doctor tell you it’s all in your head. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon experience for many of the six million Americans living with fibromyalgia, a chronic, painful condition. People with fibromyalgia experience widespread pain, aches, and stiffness in muscles and joints throughout the body, as well as unusual tiredness. No one knows what causes this condition, and no apparent physical cause has been identified thus far. The most likely culprit is a brain malfunction that amplifies normal nerve responses, causing people with fibromyalgia to experience pain or other symptom...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 10, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Bones and joints Fatigue Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Hormonal treatments for prostate cancer may prevent or limit COVID-19 symptoms
Men have roughly twice the risk of developing severe disease and dying from COVID-19 than women. Scientists say this is in part because women mount stronger immune reactions to the disease’s microbial cause: the infamous coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Now research with prostate cancer patients points to another possible explanation, which is that the male sex hormone testosterone helps SARS-Cov-2 get into and infect human cells. SARS-CoV-2 initiates infections by first latching onto its human cell receptor. But it can only pass into a cell with the aid of a second protein called TMPRSS2. Testosterone regulates TMPRSS...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 10, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Living With Prostate Cancer Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Proposed guidelines likely to identify more early lung cancers
Lung cancer is the second most prevalent cancer in the US, and the deadliest cancer killer. In 2020, an estimated 135,720 people will die from the disease — more than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. I’ll never forget meeting new, advanced-stage lung cancer patients who ask if their diagnosis could have somehow been made earlier, when treatment would have been more likely to succeed. In 2009, when I began practicing thoracic oncology, there were no approved screening tests for lung cancer. A brief history of lung cancer screening Hope for early detection and death prevention came in 2011 with the p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 9, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Inga Lennes, MD, MPH, MBA Tags: Cancer Lung disease Screening Source Type: blogs

Limiting COVID chaos during the school year
Child: “Will I go back to school this fall? Parent: “I’m not sure yet.” Child: “Do you know when we’ll find out?” Parent: “I also don’t know that yet.” Child: “Will school be the same for the whole year?” Parent: “I don’t know that either.” Sound familiar? If the only thing you do know is that plans are in flux, you’re not alone. School plans seem to be changing frequently — before the school year even has started in some places! With so much uncertainty, how can families limit the potential chaos that may unfold from last...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 8, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

How can you help a loved one suffering from loneliness?
You are worried about your mother. Before the pandemic, you would visit her every week with your young children. They loved playing in her garden and eating homemade cookies together. You would take your mother to medical appointments and on small excursions. However, due to her chronic lung disease, you made the difficult decision in March not to continue in-person family visits. You call her daily, but she sounds increasingly sad and worried. What can you do? What is loneliness and how does it affect health?  Loneliness is a subjective mental state of feeling disconnected from others. It is different from social iso...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 4, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Healthy Aging Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Triple therapy helps control severe asthma
Asthma affects approximately 20 million adults in the US. It is a common cause of workplace and school absenteeism, and is one of the leading causes of hospitalizations in the US. Between 5% and 10% of asthmatics have frequent, persistent symptoms despite treatment with multiple medications, and are categorized as “difficult to treat” and “severe” asthmatics. In these patients, asthma can be life-threatening. Identifying ways to control symptoms and asthma exacerbations in these patients is an important goal of asthma researchers. Proper technique and particle size impact effectiveness of inhalers A...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 2, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kathleen Haley, MD Tags: Asthma Drugs and Supplements Source Type: blogs

How to help your child get the sleep they need
This year, back-to-school plans are still a work in progress, and some (perhaps many) children will be learning from home because of the pandemic. As tempting as it might be to let the summer sleep schedules stay in place, it’s important that children have a regular routine — and that they are sleeping during the dark hours and awake during the light ones, as our bodies do best that way. So while a child whose trip to school is just a walk to the kitchen table might be able to sleep a bit later than one who has to catch an early bus, no child should be spending all morning in bed. Sleep is crucial for all of us...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 31, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Sleep Source Type: blogs

Blown up in smoke: Young adults who vape at greater risk of COVID symptoms
COVID-19 has swept across the globe, infecting millions and resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Substantial resources have been invested into understanding individual vulnerability in order to protect those at greatest risk. Age is the most often cited risk factor; 75% of US deaths have been in people over the age of 65, while younger people generally have milder symptoms. In addition to age, the Centers for Disease Control has delineated a list of health factors that increase vulnerability, most of which are chronic disorders that generally alter health status. The single most modifiable risk factor for severe C...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 28, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sharon Levy, MD, MPH Tags: Addiction Adolescent health Children's Health Cold and Flu Coronavirus and COVID-19 Lung disease Smoking cessation Source Type: blogs

Is it safe to reduce blood pressure medications for older adults?
“Doctor, can you take away any of my medications? I am taking too many pills.” As physicians, we hear this request frequently. The population most affected by the issue of being prescribed multiple medications, known as polypharmacy, is the elderly. Trying to organize long lists of medications, and remembering to take them exactly as prescribed, can become a full-time job. In addition to the physical and emotional burden of organizing medications, older adults are at increased risk for certain types of side effects and potential worse outcomes due to polypharmacy. A common source of prescriptions is high blood ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 26, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Hanna Gaggin, MD, MPH Tags: Drugs and Supplements Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

5 ways to ease pain using the mind-body connection
I smashed my elbow a few weeks ago. There was no bone break — just a bad bruise after slipping in the kitchen and landing on my arm — but at times the pain has been excruciating. So I’ve been following doctor’s orders: babying my elbow, icing it, and taking an occasional over-the-counter painkiller. (PS: I wear sneakers in the kitchen now.) Something else has helped, too: mind-body therapies. These approaches aim to change our awareness of pain and retrain the way we respond to it. The therapies can help us control pain — such as long-lasting back pain — or live with it better. While the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 24, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Back Pain Complementary and alternative medicine Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Worried about sleep apnea? Home-based testing is now the norm
If your bed partner complains about your loud snoring, it might be a disruptive nuisance — or something more serious. High-volume snoring punctuated by snorts, gasps, and brief pauses in breathing is the hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea. Although this condition occurs most often in men over 40 who are overweight or obese, it can affect people of all ages and sizes. The resulting daytime sleepiness — a direct result of not getting enough high-quality sleep — can leave people moody and forgetful. Even more worrisome: car accidents are two to three times more common in people with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 21, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Sleep Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

Hormonal treatments for prostate cancer are often given late
Men with advanced prostate cancer are typically treated with drugs that cause testosterone levels to plummet. Testosterone is a hormone that fuels growing prostate tumors, so ideally this type of treatment, which is called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), or hormonal therapy, will stall the disease in its tracks. For that to happen, ADT has to be administered correctly. But according to a new study, men frequently don’t get ADT at the proper dosing intervals. Too many of them get the treatments later then they should, causing testosterone levels to rise unacceptably. “Rapid increases in testosterone followin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 20, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Does diet really matter when it comes to adult acne?
When I was a teenager, the advice I got about acne was clear and consistent: Avoid oily foods and chocolate because they trigger breakouts and make existing acne worse Wash your face often Try a topical, over-the-counter remedy such as those containing benzoyl peroxide (Clearasil) or salicylic acid (Stridex). By the time I got to medical school, the message had changed. I learned that the diet-acne connection was considered a myth, and that what we eat has little to do with making acne better or worse. But a new study has once again turned the tables. It suggests that diet might contribute to acne — at least in adu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 19, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Healthy Eating Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Food insecurity, COVID-19, and eating disorders
In this study, participants with the highest level of food insecurity experienced: higher levels of binge eating (uncontrollable eating) a higher likelihood of having any type of eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia dietary restraint for any reason, for example, avoiding a food group, such as carbohydrates, or types of foods, such as desserts weight self-stigma, assessed through responses to a questionnaire that measured self-devaluation and fear of experiencing stigma (sample statement: “I would never have any problems with weight if I were stronger”) high levels of worry, also measured through respon...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 17, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FACP, FTOS  Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Health care disparities Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Should we screen all adolescent girls and women for anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses, affecting up to 40% of women and 20% of men in the course of their lifetimes. Women and adolescent girls are at particularly high risk for the development of anxiety disorders, due to differences in their brain chemistry, psychosocial contributors such as childhood sexual abuse, as well as the hormonal effects of estrogen and progesterone. Since anxiety disorders are so common among women and girls, could early detection lead to improved outcomes? The US expert recommendations In a recent clinical guideline, the Women’s Preventive Service Initiative (WPSI) recom...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 14, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

An emerging link between the urinary microbiome and urinary incontinence
Most people know that microorganisms live on our skin, and in other places in the body such as the digestive tract. However, traditional thinking and medical teaching was that there was no such microbiome in the urinary tract. Many people may still believe that urine is sterile. Advanced detection methods such as enhanced urine cultures and DNA sequencing have shown that this is not true. These newer technologies have enabled identification of low levels of microorganisms that were not previously detected using conventional methods. This has revolutionized how we think about the urinary tract when it is both healthy and un...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 12, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jeannine Miranne, MD, MS Tags: Incontinence Kidney and urinary tract Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Which test is best for COVID-19?
Now that we’re several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, steps we need to take to effectively control the outbreak have become clear: conscientious prevention measures like handwashing and distancing, widespread testing with quick turnaround times, and contact tracing. None of these is easy to maintain over a prolonged period. But combined, they are our best bets while awaiting better treatments and an effective vaccine. So, which tests to use? The many types of tests available are sowing considerable confusion. Unfortunately, because this novel coronavirus is indeed novel, and COVID-19 is a new disease, information...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 10, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

Be vigilant about bug spray
Ticks and mosquitoes don’t care about COVID-19 safety protocols. They don’t care that people are trying to squeeze out the last moments of this restrictive summer by getting outdoors, hiking, or just sitting on their decks at night and feeling something that’s close to normal. COVID-19 has commanded our attention and caused people to adapt their behaviors to prevent one major health concern, but it doesn’t mean others have been eliminated. “Masks and social distancing will do nothing to protect you from what ticks and mosquitoes potentially carry,” says Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infe...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 7, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Autoimmune diseases Prevention Safety Source Type: blogs

Children, teens, and the safety of psychotropic medicines
Medicines prescribed for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders — known as psychotropic drugs — have largely been studied in adults. This concerns many parents whose children take these drugs regularly. Studies have most often looked at the effectiveness of these medicines in teens and children. Now a recent systematic review of multiple studies done in children and adolescents offers new guidance on safety for commonly used medicines. What did the study look at? The aim of this study was to comprehensively synthesize current evidence on the safety of four...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 6, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Hyun Jung Kim, MD Tags: Adolescent health Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Rising temperatures: How to avoid heat-related illnesses and deaths
In Boston, we believe warmer is better. Our cravings for warmth are formed in the cold, dark winter nights when the prospect of summer seems impossibly remote. But with July temperatures reaching near 100° F, our winter dreams are becoming a summertime nightmare. Dangerous heat exposures in Boston and other cities across the US aren’t felt equally. Urban areas with less green space and more pavement can be up to 15 degrees hotter than other, greener places. These urban heat islands are much more likely to be poor, minority neighborhoods, and their origins can be traced straight back to redlining that began in the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 5, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH Tags: Asthma Children's Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Emergency Planning Environmental health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

School, camp, daycare, and sports physicals: What to do in the time of COVID-19
As some youth sports teams get started again, some summer camps and daycares are opening up, and we begin to think about school (or some form of it) in the fall, many parents are wondering: what do I do about getting that physical form I need for my child? Understandably, many families do not want to go to the doctor right now. They are worried about going anywhere, and especially worried about going to a medical office, where they are concerned they may end up around sick people. I want to say up front that most medical facilities are very aware of the risk, and take measures to make sure that patients can safely get the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 4, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Wondering about goosebumps? Of course you are
They go by different names: goosebumps, goose pimples, goose flesh, and my personal favorite, goose bumples. The medical term is cutis anserine (cutis means skin and anser means goose). I guess the similarity in texture is just too close to goose skin to ignore. Other medical terms for goosebumps are horripilation, piloerection, or the pilomotor reflex. Each of these terms describes a temporary change in the skin from smooth to bumpy, most commonly developing after exposure to cold. Many people associate goosebumps with fear, or perhaps more accurately, with horror. Perhaps that’s why a popular series of children&rsq...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 3, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Lifestyle changes are important for managing atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (afib) is a common heart rhythm disorder in which the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat fast and irregularly. Afib commonly causes recurrent symptoms, usually palpitations and shortness of breath, and can negatively affect quality of life. Afib also substantially increases the risk of stroke, and is also associated with heart failure, high blood pressure, and diabetes. People with afib routinely require lifelong treatment with blood thinners, to prevent blood clots that can lead to strokes. Doctors are only recently understanding the importance of lifestyle factors in treating afib. Modifiabl...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 31, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD Tags: Diabetes Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Healthy Eating Heart Health Sleep Source Type: blogs

Can appealing to teenagers ’ vanity improve sun-protective behaviors?
As the summer warmth lures us outside, parents may be struggling to get their teenagers to follow sun protection guidelines. It can be challenging to catch the attention of younger people, for whom health concerns such as skin cancer feel like a lifetime away. One promising strategy for educating teens about sun-protective behavior is to appeal to their vanity and meet them where they are — on their smartphones. Mobile app reveals possible effects of UV exposure A recent study in JAMA Dermatology looked at the impact of using a face-aging mobile application on sun-protective behaviors in a group of Brazilian high sch...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 30, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Shinjita Das, MD Tags: Cancer Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

I can ’t tolerate CPAP, what can I do?
Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is the most common treatment prescribed for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). CPAP involves wearing a mask that fits into the nostrils, underneath or over the nose, or over the nose and mouth, through which pressurized air is delivered via tubing from a machine to keep the upper airway open during sleep. CPAP is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) as the initial treatment for moderate or severe OSA, and in mild cases of OSA when associated with insomnia, disrupted sleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness. When used consistently, and when treatment is effecti...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 29, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Melanie Pogach, MD Tags: Ear, nose, and throat Sleep Source Type: blogs

Avoiding COVID-19 when following the guidelines seems impossible
By now, we all know the drill: Maintain physical distance. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Avoid people who are sick and stay away from others if you are sick. While these measures may seem simple enough, they are not easy to keep up month after month. Yet they are likely to be with us for a while. But what about those who cannot comply? Certain conditions can make the standard measures to stay safe during the pandemic seem impossible. At the same time, some of those likely to have the most trouble following the guidelines — such as older people with dementia — are at higher risk for illness and death if they do ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 28, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Anxiety and Depression Asthma Caregiving Coronavirus and COVID-19 Source Type: blogs

The lowdown on the low-FODMAP diet
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal disorder that produces distressing symptoms like abdominal pain, significant bloating, and altered bowel movements that can shuttle between diarrhea and constipation. While changing what you eat won’t cure you, an evidence-based approach called the low-FODMAP diet is the most frequently prescribed food plan to help relieve IBS symptoms. Studies show it can reduce symptoms for the majority of patients. However, because of certain challenges and risks associated with the low-FODMAP diet, it’s worth talking to an expert before you try it. FODMAP basics  Th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN Tags: Digestive Disorders Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Youth sports during COVID-19: What parents need to know and do
It’s become clear that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon. This means that we are going to have to figure out how to live, and raise our children, when seemingly every action we take carries some risk. Youth sports can bring great benefits to children. Team sports offer opportunities for exercise, which is crucial for health, and also for socialization and learning how to be part of a community. Children need these opportunities, which are particularly lacking during the pandemic. It would be great if we could find a way for children to engage in sports during the pandemic. But as with every ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 24, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Exercise and Fitness Parenting Source Type: blogs

Does air pollution cause Alzheimer ’s disease?
Have you ever spent the day in a city with such bad air pollution that when you blew your nose the mucus had a black tinge? Have you ever coughed as you breathed in diesel fumes from a passing bus and thought to yourself, “Well, that’s a year gone from my life”? Could it actually be true — that air pollution leads to an early death? The answer, in fact, is an unqualified yes. Air pollution causes heart disease, lung disease, and early death It has been known for some time that air pollution causes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, heart disease, and stroke. One r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 23, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Environmental health Healthy Aging Memory Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

Healthy headphone use: How loud and how long?
As our society and culture become more connected through technology, the use of headphones has increased. Headphones allow people to enjoy music and have conversations from anywhere at any time. The ease of headphone use and the mobility that they afford cannot be overstated. This is particularly true currently, as our society spends more time with virtual meetings and headphones during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the convenience of headphones and the increased utility, questions about safety of use have been raised. There is such a thing as healthy headphone use; you just need to know about safe sound levels and when t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 22, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Naples, MD Tags: Hearing Loss Prevention Safety Source Type: blogs

Vaccines for COVID-19 moving closer
As the world reels from illnesses and deaths due to COVID-19, the race is on for a safe, effective, long-lasting vaccine to help the body block the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The three vaccine approaches discussed here are among the first to be tested clinically in the United States. How vaccines induce immunity: The starting line In 1796, in a pastoral corner of England, and during a far more feudal and ethically less enlightened time, Edward Jenner, an English country surgeon, inoculated James Phipps, his gardener’s eight-year-old son, with cowpox pustules obtained from the arm of a milkmaid. It was widely belie...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 21, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Shiv Pillai, PhD, MBBS Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Infectious diseases Vaccines Source Type: blogs

How can I know if my penicillin allergy is real?
People with a penicillin allergy on their medical record are not given penicillins (or often their relatives the cephalosporins) when they have infections. Instead, the antibiotics prescribed may be broader-spectrum, less effective, and/or more toxic. Penicillin alternatives may be less effective or more toxic One recent national study from more than 100 US hospitals with almost 11,000 patients demonstrated that if you have a reported penicillin allergy, you are five times more likely to be prescribed clindamycin than if you do not have that label. Clindamycin is an antibiotic that is highly associated with the potentially...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 20, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kimberly Blumenthal, MD, MSc Tags: Allergies Drugs and Supplements Source Type: blogs

Metabolic syndrome is on the rise: What it is and why it matters
Metabolic syndrome may be the most common and serious condition you’ve never heard of. (At least that’s what I found out when I asked friends and relatives about it.) Worse, a study published recently in JAMA shows that it’s on the rise. Let’s start with the name, according to Merriam-Webster: Metabolic: Relating to the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities and new material is assimilated Syndrome: A group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition. So now you know what metabolic syndrome ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 17, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Diabetes Health Health care disparities Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

Gender differences in cardiovascular disease: Women are less likely to be prescribed certain heart medications
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading killer of both women and men in the US. Despite the significant impact CVD has on women, awareness and education for women’s heart disease has historically been low. A recent study, based on data from over two million patients, suggests that women were less likely to be prescribed aspirin, statins, and certain blood pressure medications compared to men. CVD is a group of diseases involving the heart or blood vessels. It includes high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart failure, heart valve problems, and abnormal heart rhythms. CVD ca...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 16, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Hannah Gaggin, MD, MPH Tags: Drugs and Supplements Heart Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Envisioning food security: Steps we take now can help
Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity (lack of reliable access to nutritious food) was a considerable problem, affecting 11% of the country, with higher rates among low-income and racial and ethnic minorities. The shutdown of businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19 has led to historically high levels of unemployment, most recently reported at 11% in June. That translates to more than 40 million people losing their jobs. Like food insecurity, jobless claims also disproportionately harm Black and Hispanic populations. However, it is possible to envision different paths, and even a path that leads to fo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 15, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sara N. Bleich, PhD Tags: Children's Health Health care disparities Healthy Eating Nutrition Source Type: blogs

How risky is using a public bathroom during the pandemic?
Given the choice between using a public bathroom and doing anything else, some people will always choose the latter. Regardless of the urgency or however pristine it’s reported to be, the space comes with an ick factor, says Dr. John Ross, who practices hospital medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is board-certified in infectious diseases. That image is hard to shake even in normal times, but COVID-19 has done nothing to make public bathrooms more appealing, as they come with high-touch surfaces and often lidless toilets. Ross says that it’s easy to see them as hotbeds of infection and ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 14, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Cold and Flu Coronavirus and COVID-19 Infectious diseases Safety Source Type: blogs

A new hormonal therapy for prostate cancer is under expedited FDA review
In June, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an accelerated review of a promising new drug for advanced prostate cancer. Called relugolix, it suppresses testosterone and other hormones that speed the cancer’s growth. If approved, this new type of hormonal therapy is expected to set a new standard of care for the disease. Doctors give hormonal therapies when a man’s tumor is metastasizing (spreading beyond the prostate), or if his PSA levels start rising after surgery or radiation. The most commonly used hormonal therapies, called LHRH agonists, will eventually lower testosterone levels in blood. ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 13, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Tinted sunscreens: Benefits beyond an attractive glow
Tinted sunscreens are having a moment. These mineral-based sunscreen formulations have an added color base that can help even out skin tone while protecting your skin. And thanks to their ability to block visible light, they may help certain skin conditions. Could the days of unsightly sunscreen residue be in your past? What is visible light, and how can it affect your skin? Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and visible light are both part of the electromagnetic spectrum. UV radiation is composed of three different wavelengths: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer, so UVA and UVB are the primary wavelength...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 13, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Neera Nathan, MD, MSHS Tags: Cancer Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Can a daily pill lighten heavy menstrual bleeding caused by fibroids?
Fibroids are generally benign (not cancerous) tumors that form within the tissues of the uterus. They are very common in reproductive-age women: studies report that up to 70% of white women and 80% of Black women may develop fibroids by age 50. And research suggests Black women are more likely to experience severe or very severe symptoms related to fibroids, such as heavy and sometimes prolonged monthly periods. In some cases, women seek medical care due to menstrual bleeding so heavy that they develop anemia and require iron supplements or, much more rarely, blood transfusions. The FDA recently approved new medicine, take...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 10, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Huma Farid, MD Tags: Fertility Health Health care disparities Women's Health Source Type: blogs