5 tips for the farmers market
It’s peak farmers market season and the stalls are overflowing with piles of attractively arranged yummy fruits and veggies. Buying local and eating organic sounds good, but there are so many choices, and it’s easy to overspend. Here are five tips to help you get the most bang for your buck at the stalls this fall: Is it really local? Not all farm stands represent your local farmers. There are a few ways to tell. The market in our town features an online newsletter, and every week, they send out a list of farmers market vendors. Most have a link, and it’s easy to see which ones are truly local family farm...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Food as medicine Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease?
This study did find a significant reduction in adverse cardiovascular outcomes with daily aspirin in people with diabetes, though there was also a similar magnitude of increased major bleeding. Still, many people would rather be hospitalized for bleeding and get a transfusion versus being hospitalized for a heart attack that causes permanent damage to the heart. Others may not see much difference between the two types of events and may prefer not to take an additional medication. Should you take a daily aspirin? So, where does this leave the average person who is worried about a heart attack and wants to do everything they...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Deepak Bhatt, MD, MPH Tags: Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Alcohol and your health: Is none better than a little?
It’s complicated. That’s the best way to describe the relationship between alcohol and health. As I’ve written about before, a number of studies have demonstrated health benefits with lower amounts of drinking. But if you drink too much alcohol (especially at inopportune times), there may be significant harms as well. Just how these balance out remains a matter of some debate and controversy. While it’s easy to say “too much alcohol is bad for you” (and then point out the litany of harms caused by alcohol, such as liver disease and motor vehicle accidents), it’s harder to answer th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Alcohol Health Source Type: blogs

School refusal: When a child won ’t go to school
The transition back to school each fall is challenging for many families. But some children and teens feel so much emotional distress that they may repeatedly balk at attending school or staying there — a problem known as school refusal, or school avoidance if it occurs consistently. Ways to identify school refusal and tips on responding to it quickly are described below. What is school refusal? Shifting from a more relaxed summer routine to early wake-ups, hours in class, and dreaded homework makes many students feel mildly anxious or cranky during the early weeks of a new school year. For some students, howeve...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julia Martin Burch, PhD Tags: Adolescent health Anxiety and Depression Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Is tight blood sugar control right for older adults with diabetes?
One of the best parts of being a geriatrician (a specialist caring for older adults) is to meet individuals who are aging successfully, taking care of themselves, and taking their health seriously. Well-informed individuals usually like to know if their chronic health conditions are well controlled or not. With improved public education, it is now common knowledge that uncontrolled diabetes leads to damage to the major organs of the body, such as the heart, kidneys, eyes, nerves, blood vessels, and brain. So, it is important to ask how tightly blood glucose (also called blood sugar) should be controlled to decrease the ris...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Medha Munshi, MD Tags: Diabetes Source Type: blogs

Writing as an antidote to loneliness
It may not seem possible to be able to write your way to better health. But as a doctor, a public health practitioner, and a poet myself, I know what the scientific data have to say about this: when people write about what’s in their hearts and minds, they feel better and get healthier. And it isn’t just that they’re getting their troubles off their chests. Writing provides a rewarding means of exploring and expressing feelings. It allows you to make sense of yourself and the world you are experiencing. Having a deeper understanding of how you think and feel — that self-knowledge — provides yo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Stress Source Type: blogs

What ’ s a healthy breakfast?
If you asked someone to list some typical regular weekday morning breakfast foods, they’d probably rattle off things like cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and maybe eggs and bacon. But here’s the deal. Breakfast is how we break our overnight fast, and for many people, breaking fast doesn’t have to happen first thing in the morning. That’s right, folks: breakfast does NOT have to happen first thing in the morning. If you are not hungry when you wake up, that is normal, and you do not need to eat. That old myth about “revving up your metabolism” with food first thing was ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diabetes Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Orthorexia: The extreme quest for a healthy diet
The pursuit for the healthiest diet continues. Just as I was finishing writing this blog post, a new study came out suggesting that both low-carb and high-carb diets may shorten lifespan. In the 1980s and ‘90s, we were following the low-fat trend. These days, the ketogenic diet and the very-low-carb diet are all the rage. And if you think there is controversy about the right amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you should eat, the conversation can get downright ugly if we start talking about specific items like gluten. Research continues to look for insight into the best diet for humans. But the relentless foc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Eating Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Naps: Make the most of them and know when to stop them
During the first year of life, naps are crucial for babies (who simply cannot stay awake for more than a couple of hours at a time), and crucial for parents and caregivers, who need breaks from the hard work of caring for an infant. But as children become toddlers and preschoolers, naps aren’t always straightforward. Children often fight them (following the “you snooze you lose” philosophy), and they can conflict with daily tasks (such as school pick-up when there are older siblings) or lead to late bedtimes. Here are some tips for making naps work for you and your child — and for knowing when they ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Sleep Source Type: blogs

Preterm birth and heart disease risk for mom
If you delivered a baby early, you may want to pay closer attention to your heart health. A study published in the journal Hypertension shows that a history of preterm birth (defined as a birth before the 37th week of pregnancy) may bring health risks for not only for baby, but for mom, too. The study found that women who delivered a baby preterm were more likely to experience rising blood pressures later, compared to women who delivered closer to term. If they had this pattern, they were also more likely to show signs of coronary artery disease, which is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Becaus...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 10, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Heart Health Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Tired? 4 simple ways to boost energy
When I’m dragging and feeling tired during the occasional low-energy day, my go-to elixir is an extra cup (or two or three) of black French press coffee. It gives my body and brain a needed jolt, but it may not help where I need it the most: my cells. The cellular basis of being tired What we call “energy” is actually a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), produced by tiny cellular structures called mitochondria. ATP’s job is to store energy and then deliver that energy to cells in other parts of the body. However, as you grow older, your body has fewer mitochondria. “If you feel you ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Fatigue Health Source Type: blogs

Why pregnant and nursing mothers shouldn ’t smoke marijuana
As more states legalize marijuana, the number of pregnant women who smoke marijuana is rising — and this could be really bad for babies. In 2002, 2.3% of pregnant women used marijuana. In 2014, that number was up to 3.84%, a rise of two-thirds. To make matters worse, the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana has quadrupled. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, the chemical that gives the “high.” We don’t know all the effects of THC on infants, but we know enough that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a statement warning parents. THC can pass easily through the pla...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Marijuana Parenting Source Type: blogs

Healthy lifestyle can prevent diabetes (and even reverse it)
The rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing around the world. Type 2 diabetes is a major cause of vision loss and blindness, kidney failure requiring dialysis, heart attacks, strokes, amputations, infections and even early death. Over 80% of people with prediabetes (that is, high blood sugars with the high risk for developing full-blown diabetes) don’t know it. Heck, one in four people who have full-blown diabetes don’t know they have it! Research suggests that a healthy lifestyle can prevent diabetes from occurring in the first place and even reverse its progress. Can a healthy diet and lifestyle prevent diabete...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diabetes Diet and Weight Loss Food as medicine Healthy Eating Prevention Source Type: blogs

Understanding and improving core strength
When most people think about core strength, they think about an abdominal six-pack. While it looks good, this toned outer layer of abdominal musculature is not the same as a strong core. What is the “core” and why is core strength so important? The core is a group of muscles that stabilizes and controls the pelvis and spine (and therefore influences the legs and upper body). Core strength is less about power and more about the subtleties of being able to maintain the body in ideal postures — to unload the joints and promote ease of movement. For the average person, this helps them maintain the ability to ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 4, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lauren Elson, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

Barbecue Better for Labor Day
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, when many of us enjoy a long weekend with friends and family and toast the season with a backyard barbecue. The traditional meat-heavy barbecue menu can be hazardous to your health, but it doesn’t have to be. Some of the most popular barbecue foods are well-known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes (and a number of other diseases, too!), like steak, pork ribs, processed red meats (hot dogs), refined grains (traditional pasta salads, rolls, potato chips), and processed, added sugars (sodas, desserts). But we can help you make over your Labor Day celebration menu with h...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 31, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

10 superfoods to boost a healthy diet
No single food — not even a superfood — can offer all the nutrition, health benefits, and energy we need to nourish ourselves. The 2015–2020 US Dietary Guidelines recommend healthy eating patterns, “combining healthy choices from across all food groups — while paying attention to calorie limits.” Over the years, research has shown that healthy dietary patterns can reduce risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Dietary patterns such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet, which are mostly plant-based, have d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Source Type: blogs

Travel tips: What you need to know before, during, and after you go abroad
Summer may be winding down, but travel isn’t! Getting ready for a big trip abroad can be a lot of work — especially for people with health concerns. This travel tips checklist can pave the way for a smooth journey. Before your trip   Check for travel advisories You should be aware of health or political circumstances relevant to your destination(s). The US Department of State has a number of resources for the traveler, including postings on health and security alerts for specific countries.   Check the CDC’s traveler health information There is a wealth of information here, includ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been recently covered in the media, and you may have even seen it as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. What exactly is CBD? Why is it suddenly so popular? How is cannabidiol different from marijuana? CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it also is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CDB is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), CBD by itself, does not cause a “high.” Accord...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 24, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Marijuana Source Type: blogs

Back to school anxiety
Heading back to school sparks an upswing in anxiety for many children. The average child’s school day is packed with potential stressors: separating from parents, meeting academic expectations, managing peer groups, and navigating loud, crowded school hallways and cafeteria, to name just a few of many challenges. That’s why it’s typical for children to experience some anticipatory anxiety leading up to the new school year — and for parents to notice a rise in worries. For example, your child might ask questions about what her new classroom or teacher will be like, worry about having all of his schoo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julia Martin Burch, PhD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Safe driving protects your brain
When it comes to protecting brain health, you may think about exercise, diet, or engaging in activities that challenge you. Yet most of us hop into the car to travel to work, do errands, go on vacations, or drive the kids’ carpool as a matter of habit. But driving is a huge responsibility. One miscalculation on your part or the part of another driver and the results could be disastrous. Staying safe in the car not only protects your body, but also your brain. Follow these common-sense tips and recommendations, understand the law, and never take chances. Safe driving means never drive if you are feeling woozy, overtir...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 22, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Carolyn A. Bernstein, MD, FAHS Tags: Brain and cognitive health Safety Source Type: blogs

Home cooking: Healthy family meals
Family meals are beneficial for so many reasons. People who prepare meals at home tend to consume significantly more fruits and vegetables, and less sugar and fat. People who enjoy meals at home with others, sitting together and conversing, also have reduced stress and higher life satisfaction. The more frequently families with children have meals together, the more likely the children are to eat a high-quality diet, and the less likely to be overweight or obese. There are also other benefits: these children tend to have higher self-esteem and better academic performance, as well as lower risk of engaging in risky behavior...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Food as medicine Prevention Source Type: blogs

Small study suggests benefits of computer-guided CBT for substance abuse
There is no way to meet the need for substance abuse treatment through the current healthcare system. The number of people who need treatment for drug and alcohol abuse is far greater than the number of clinicians available to treat them. In more rural areas, patients might have to spend a lot of time traveling great distances to appointments, which can be difficult to do while working or taking care of a family. And, the cost and stigma of treatment can get in the way of getting help. Moreover, even if people do get to substance abuse treatment, they often do not receive the most effective ones. As illicit drug use increa...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Cartreine, PhD Tags: Addiction Health Source Type: blogs

Heat related illness: How to keep your cool
The summer season is waning but we’re not done with the heat. Hot and humid weather can bring a host of heat-related problems: heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke…. It’s helpful to be aware of these issues, especially as we experience changes in the climate with humidity or rising temperatures. There have been several studies which have documented an uptick in emergency department visits and hospital admissions for conditions like dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and other types of heat related illness during times of high heat. Persons who are particularly at risk are the very ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Environmental health Safety Source Type: blogs

Teens and drugs: 5 tips for talking with your kids
Parents of adolescents face a tough dilemma about substance use: we may want our children to be abstinent, but what do we do if they are not? The risks are high, as we’ve discussed in our blog about adolescent substance use and the developing brain. While parents can and should communicate clearly that non-use is the best decision for health, we simply can’t control every aspect of young people’s lives. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to successful dialogue with teens about substance use, but these principles may be helpful. 1.   Make your values and your rules clear Parents sometimes use...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sharon Levy, MD, MPH Tags: Addiction Adolescent health Behavioral Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Home cooking: Good for your health
Can you imagine if you went to your primary care doctor’s office for cooking classes? What if your visit included time spent planning meals, discussing grocery lists and the benefits of home cooking, and learning culinary techniques? If that sounds odd to you, it shouldn’t. We already know that the more people cook at home, the healthier their diet, the fewer calories they consume, and the less likely they are to be obese or develop type 2 diabetes. A growing body of scientific evidence supports teaching patients how to cook meals at home as an effective medical intervention for improving diet quality, weight l...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Food as medicine Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Anxiety in children
While summer offers preschool and elementary school children a welcome break and chances to navigate new friendships and activities, it can trigger anxiety in children upset by unstructured time, changes in routine and friend groups, and transitions involving new faces and places. Separation anxiety, social anxiety, and specific phobias are instantly recognizable: a sobbing child clings to a parent, refusing to set foot inside day care; a socially anxious child worries about attending a birthday party because “nobody will play with me;” or a child is so terrified by insects that simple summer fun like a nature ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Francesca Coltrera Tags: Anxiety and Depression Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Health benefits of walnuts
This study did not determine the ideal “dose” or duration of walnut consumption. In one of the best studies, a mix of about nine hazelnuts, 12 almonds, and six walnuts were consumed daily. That might be more than some people are willing to eat! A study of this type cannot prove that walnuts were the reason a person’s cholesterol improved with a walnut-enriched diet. It’s possible that those who like walnuts also tend to exercise more, smoke less, or have more favorable genes than those who don’t eat walnuts. No single food in your diet can make you healthy. It’s the big picture that matt...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

Diet and age at menopause: Is there a connection?
This study does have limitations. For one, it relied on women to accurately remember what they ate in the past, and didn’t prove that the dietary differences actually caused the shifts in menopausal age. In addition, it included only 900 women — the ones who began menopause — in its final analysis, and used a relatively short four-year follow-up period, says Dr. Ley. That said, the findings are still worth noting, she says. They add to the ongoing discussion about the role of diet in menopause. They also seem to back up data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which suggested that dietary factors &mda...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 10, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Healthy Eating Menopause Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Lifestyle change as precision medicine
Are you frustrated that you dropped only a few pounds following a new diet, but your best friend lost almost 30? Why did the probiotics that helped your sister’s bloating sensation do nothing for you? Your coworker swears that going gluten-free made his joint pain disappear, but you just came away craving more bread and pasta. In a world where we expect personalized products and services delivered promptly to our screens and doors, medicine is not even close to bringing this level of experience. Why does precision medicine in the 21st century remain so elusive? We are using an old framework to resolve the most common...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Meningitis vaccines: What parents need to know
Meningitis can be a very scary infection — and vaccines can help prevent it. What is meningitis? The meninges are a membrane that covers and protects the brain and spinal cord. When that membrane gets inflamed, it’s called meningitis. One of the ways this inflammation can happen is from infection. Common symptoms of an infection of the meninges are fever, headache, and a stiff neck. There are many different germs that can infect the meninges. Viruses cause most cases, and while this can be serious, most people with viral meningitis get better without treatment. Some may not even realize they’ve had mening...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Infectious diseases Parenting Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Adolescence: A high-risk time for substance use disorders
Teens need to explore and challenge themselves to grow into independent adults, which sometimes involves taking risks. It can be a source of consternation and frustration for parents. But as it turns out, the adolescent brain is “deliberately” set up for risk-taking. The prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain involved in “executive functions” that support careful decision-making (like self-monitoring and impulse control) — does not fully develop until the mid-20s, long after the maturation of the emotional processing and reward-seeking centers in what is called the limbic system. This...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sharon Levy, MD, MPH Tags: Addiction Adolescent health Behavioral Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Sorting out the health effects of alcohol
When it comes to your beverage of choice, alcoholic beverages are unique. For millions, they are a regular part of the dining experience. They’re often an important component of social events, celebrations, and milestones; we toast people, events, and memories with alcohol. They play a key role in many religious traditions. And, of course, the alcoholic beverage industry is a major economic force, responsible for more than $220 billion in sales annually in the US. And all of this is true despite the well-known and well-publicized risks of drinking too much alcohol. The negative effects of alcohol It should be a surpr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Alcohol Health Source Type: blogs

Omega-3 fatty acids for mood disorders
Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in fish oil and certain marine algae. Because depression appears less common in nations where people eat large amounts of fish, scientists have investigated whether fish oils may prevent and/or treat depression and other mood disorders. Two omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — are thought to have the most potential to benefit people with mood disorders. How might omega-3s improve depression? Different mechanisms of action have been proposed. For example, omega-3s can easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David Mischoulon, MD, PhD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Drugs and Supplements Mental Health Source Type: blogs

FDA warning on vaginal laser procedures should emphasize informed choices, not fear
On July 30th, the FDA sent out a stern warning against the use of energy devices (laser therapy) to perform “vaginal rejuvenation,” and for procedures to treat symptoms related to sexual function, because of worries about adverse events. I agree with the FDA that these devices need more study, clear indications, informed patients, and skilled and ethical physicians to be used safely. However, I have concerns that the FDA, in an overabundance of caution, may limit availability of innovative therapies, which when used correctly may benefit women’s reproductive health. In addition, press coverage is causing ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Hope Ricciotti, MD Tags: Health Menopause Women's Health Source Type: blogs

New blood test may someday help guide the best treatment for aggressive prostate cancer
Tumors that spread, or metastasize, in the body shed cells into blood that doctors can scrutinize for insights into what a patient’s cancer might do. Analyzing these so-called circulating tumor cells (CTCs) isn’t part of routine care yet, in part because they’re so hard to pick out of the millions of normal cells in a blood sample. Still, scientists are making progress in this area. And in June, a research team reported that treatment decisions made on the basis of CTC testing had increased lifespans in men with an aggressive type of metastatic prostate cancer. Doctors usually treat metastatic prosta...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 1, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Cancer Health Men's Health Prostate Health Source Type: blogs

Can cell phone use cause ADHD?
Anyone who has spent any time around teens, and seen the way they often seem surgically attached to their phones, has likely wondered: is all that time on the phone affecting their brains? A study in JAMA suggests that maybe it is. Researchers from California studied the digital media use of more than 2,500 high school students who did not have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at the beginning of the study. The most common symptoms of ADHD include inattentiveness (being easily distracted, having difficulty getting organized or remembering to do things), hyperactivity (having difficulty sitting st...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 31, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Top searches on health topics? It may depend on where you live
You can learn a lot about a person’s medical concerns by looking at the health topics they’ve searched for online. It’s fascinating (and a bit creepy) to take a peek at what others are searching — and to compare what you find to what sends you online. I’ve posted before about how the health issues people report worrying about the most differ from those that are most common, deadly, or have the biggest impact on quality of life. There’s overlap, of course, but certain important conditions (such as lung disease, the third leading cause of death in 2015) did not make the top 10 list of heal...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 30, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

CPR: A neglected but important part of fighting the opioid crisis
Opioid overdose is a frightening and potentially life-threatening event. Rescue drugs like naloxone are lifesaving, but the value of CPR doesn’t get as much attention. And it should. How does opioid overdose lead to death? Opioids (like oxycodone, heroin, and fentanyl) bind to special receptors in the brain called mu receptors. These receptors are responsible for a variety of functions, most importantly breathing. When the mu receptor is stimulated by an opioid, it releases chemicals that work downstream on parts of the brain that tell the body to slow down breathing, or even stop it altogether. This respiratory depr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Stephen P. Wood, MS, ACNP-BC Tags: Addiction First Aid Health Source Type: blogs

Belly fat linked with higher heart disease risk
Muffin top. Spare tire. Beer belly. Whatever you call it, research shows that extra fat around your belly poses a unique health threat. The study in the March 6, 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association involved about 500,000 people, ages 40 to 69, in the United Kingdom. The researchers took body measurements of the participants and then kept track of who had heart attacks over the next seven years. During that period, the women who carried more weight around their middles (measured by waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, or waist-to-height ratio) had a 10% to 20% greater risk of heart attack than wo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Health benefits of coffee and a proposed warning label
Coffee is among the most popular beverages ever, enjoyed by millions of people worldwide each day. Estimates suggest that Americans consumed 3.4 billion pounds of coffee last year. When it comes to its health effects, coffee is also among the best studied beverages. How much is too much? Does coffee cause cancer? What is behind the proposed new warning label for coffee? Fortunately, the news on coffee is mostly good. This includes a recent study that found coffee drinkers live longer, a conclusion that held up even for heavy coffee consumption (eight or more cups of coffee each day), and regardless of whether the coffee wa...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 25, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Common food additives and chemicals harmful to children
What do a can of corn, a take-out pizza, a reusable water bottle, a bright green yogurt, and an inflatable pool toy have in common? They all contain food additives or chemicals that can be dangerous for children. Over the last few decades, the number of chemicals added to foods and other products has skyrocketed. We have created all sorts of plastics that are used in innumerable ways. We add preservatives to foods to keep them fresh. We add chemicals to foods to make them look more appealing. We have made food packaging to keep food fresh. We add chemicals to lotions and beauty products to make them feel, look, and sm...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 24, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Environmental health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Do I have anxiety or worry: What ’s the difference?
Have you ever thought about starting a new job or school, and found your heart pounding and your mind racing with a series of “what ifs”? If so, you may wonder “do I have anxiety?” Anxiety is your body’s natural threat response system. When your brain believes you are in danger, it sends out a series of signals to your body, resulting in the fight-or-flight response. Worry is a component of anxiety symptoms Anxiety has three main components: emotional, physiological, and cognitive. Imagine you have a presentation coming up at work. You might notice feelings of fear and dread, two examples of t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Luana Marques, PhD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

10 tricks to reduce salt (sodium) in your diet
The average adult eats about 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day — far more than the recommended daily goal of 2,300 mg. Here are the top 10 types of food that account for more than 40% of the sodium we eat each day, along with some ideas for simple swaps to help you eat less salt. 1. Breads and rolls This category tops the list not because bread is especially salty (a slice contains about 100 to 200 mg of sodium), but because we eat so much of it. Smart swaps: Instead of toast or a bagel for breakfast, have a bowl of oatmeal prepared with just a pinch of salt. Bypass the dinner breadbasket for a serving of whole...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

How long will my hip or knee replacement last?
For people considering hip or knee replacement surgery, it’s something they want — and need — to know. In the US alone, surgeons perform more than 600,000 knee replacements and about 330,000 hip replacements each year. These operations can provide a major improvement in quality of life and function for those with severe arthritis. On the other hand, there are risks associated with the operation (as is true for any major surgery), there is a long road to recovery even when all goes well, and these operations aren’t cheap. For knee replacement surgery alone, an estimated $9 billion or more is spent ea...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Health Osteoarthritis Surgery Source Type: blogs

An insider ’s guide to a hospital stay
Hopefully, you’ll never experience what it’s like to be an inpatient in the hospital. But even if it’s not you, it’s likely that someone — family member, good friend, colleague — will experience a hospital stay at some point. We want you to help you be as informed (and comfortable) as possible. The emergency room Although people sometimes use the emergency room for a routine doctor visit, it’s really a place for… emergencies. If you need to go to an emergency room, you’ll first be “triaged.” That means that based on your symptoms or type of injury, you will...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Christopher Bullock, MD Tags: Health Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Warning signs of a concussion
Every year, hundreds of thousands of children get concussions. They get them from falls, from playing sports, from being hit by objects, from bumping into things. What many people don’t realize is that it doesn’t necessarily take a big impact to get a concussion. One of my daughters got a concussion from bumping into a low-hanging tree branch — and another got one from being elbowed in the head during a swim team practice. Concussions happen when there is not only impact, but also movement, like jerking back and forth. That’s why helmets such as bike or football helmets don’t necessarily preve...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Children's Health Headache Parenting Source Type: blogs

Depression: Common medication side effect?
This study is especially thought-provoking, given that more and more people are taking medications with depression or suicidal thoughts as possible side effects. The CDC just released updated data showing a troubling recent rise in suicide rates, and that 54% of those who die from suicide do not have a known mental health disorder, so this is an important public health issue. That said, it is important to note: in this study, people who used these medications were more likely to be widowed and have chronic health problems, both of which are associated with a higher risk of depression. And many (but not all) of these medica...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Anxiety and Depression Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

T-ball: The ups and downs, and why it can be worthwhile
I just finished my third season as my oldest son’s T-ball coach. I’ve never missed a game or a practice, and I’m on my second age division where pitching is involved. I only say that stuff to be able to say this: it’s not a good game. The kids are great. I love that it’s outdoors and I don’t mind overseeing things for an hour. But still, the game is seriously lacking in common sense. There’s too much inactivity and waiting for balls that will never come, stuff that 4-to-7-year-olds aren’t built for, especially at 5:30 on a Thursday afternoon. I’ve modified where possibl...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Art therapy: Another way to help manage pain
When we were kids, art time was often the best part of grammar school. Who didn’t enjoy coloring, drawing, painting, and cutting-and-pasting? It was fun, relaxing, and you got a wonderful euphoric feeling from creating something you made. We need to get back to that child activity. It turns out that making art can be a powerful therapeutic tool for adults, especially in the treatment and management of pain. Called art therapy, this type of psychotherapy can help modify your response to emotional and physical problems related to pain. “Art therapy does not replace the need for pain medication, but it can be...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Autoimmune disease and stress: Is there a link?
A new study has raised the possibility that stress may cause autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, because it found a higher incidence of autoimmune diseases among people who were previously diagnosed with stress-related disorders. I have patients who heard about this research and are saying, “I knew it!” But before we accept a potential link between stress and autoimmune disease, let’s look at some details of the study and consider how we define the terms “autoimmune disease,” “stress,” and “stress-related disorder.” What is autoimmune disease? The...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Autoimmune diseases Health Stress Source Type: blogs