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

5 habits for moms that help prevent childhood obesity
We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic in the United States. Currently 40% of adults and almost 20% of children are obese. The childhood obesity numbers particularly worry us, because the effects of obesity accumulate over time. A child who is obese is more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, and other complications of obesity earlier in life than someone who develops obesity in adulthood. When we think about preventing obesity in children, we naturally tend to think of the children themselves. We think about doing everything we can to be sure they follow healthy lifestyle habits, in particular eating a healthy ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 10, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Exercise and Fitness Parenting Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Multigenerational fitness parks
Public parks look a lot different than they did just a decade ago. Sure, you’ll find swings and seesaws, but today they’re bigger, sturdier, and more ergonomically designed. And they’re often paired with colorful outdoor exercise equipment, making play at multigenerational fitness parks a great workout for kids of all ages, even parents and grandparents. And that’s the intent. “They need an opportunity to be active alongside the kids they’re with,” says Lindsay Adeyiga from KaBoom, a nonprofit playground builder that’s created dozens of multigenerational parks across the coun...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Children's Health Exercise and Fitness Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

Alcohol and heart health
I’m not a regular drinker, nor a teetotaler. But like many people, I enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner, and nothing tastes better than an ice-cold beer on a sweaty summer day. Besides, some alcohol is a toast to my long-term heart health. At least that’s what the science says, right? Not really. When it comes to alcohol and heart health, the existing research is quite conflicting — some studies say alcohol improves heart health, while others imply the opposite. Alcohol and heart health: What’s the real story? The problem with most alcohol-related research is that it consists a...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Alcohol Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Healthy lifestyle: 5 keys to a longer life
How is it that the United States spends the most money on healthcare, and yet still has the one of the lowest life expectancies of all developed nations? (To be specific: $9,400 per capita, 79 years, and 31st.) Maybe those of us in healthcare have been looking at it all wrong, for too long. Healthy lifestyle and longevity Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a massive study of the impact of health habits on life expectancy, using data from the well-known Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). This means that they had data on a huge number of...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

How to treat a child ’s sunburn
Even when we do our best to prevent sunburn, it sometimes happen. It’s easy to miss a spot when applying sunscreen (especially if you’ve got a squirmy kid). Sometimes we can’t keep up with reapplying when kids are active or in and out of the water. Sometimes we get caught off guard by a really sunny day — and sometimes we just forget to bring sunscreen on an outing. Here’s what you should do if your child gets sunburned. Get them out of the sun. This sounds obvious, but it’s worth stating. If your child is getting sunburned, either find or make some shade, or go indoors. Staying out in t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

4th of July: Holiday or hazard?
America is confusing. To celebrate the birth of our nation, we eat hot dogs first created in Germany, set off fireworks invented in China, and listen to European-style orchestras play Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture commemorating a Russian military triumph (i.e., not the one the United States fought in that year), replete with the precisely-timed firing of 16 cannons, a weapon which, incidentally, was first used in battle by — you guessed it — the very nation from which we dissolved our political bonds in the first place: the English. Perhaps as a nation of immigrants that likes to appropriate any and all cul...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - July 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jeremy Samuel Faust, MD, MS Tags: Health Safety Source Type: blogs

Intermittent fasting: Surprising update
There’s a ton of incredibly promising intermittent fasting (IF) research done on fat rats. They lose weight, their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars improve… but they’re rats. Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and incredibly effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast. But a growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention. The backstory on intermit...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Source Type: blogs

Rethinking the screening mammogram
This study analyzed data from women over 40 and compared the size of breast cancers at the time of diagnosis detected in the 1970s (before mammography became common) with the size of tumors detected between 2000 and 2002, when screening mammography was routine. Treatments and rates of death due to breast cancer 10 years after the diagnosis were also analyzed. The study found that: As more women underwent routine screening mammograms, more small breast cancers were detected. Many of these tumors were restricted to the ducts within the breast (called ductal carcinoma in situ), and even without treatment would never threaten...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 28, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Losing weight: Mindfulness may help
One of the hardest parts about losing weight isn’t choosing what to eat. You know you should focus on fresh, lower-calorie foods and steer clear of sugary, fat-laden treats. Often, the real challenge is more about changing how and why you eat. One strategy that just might help is the practice of mindfulness, according to a recent review in Current Obesity Reports. One of the main benefits of mindfulness approaches for weight loss is to help people recognize emotional eating, says mindfulness expert Ronald D. Siegel, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “Very few of us eat solely based on...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Source Type: blogs

Teens are getting less sleep, which raises heart disease risk
Teens are getting less sleep these days — and it could make them more likely to have heart disease as adults. Over the past 20 years, the amount of sleep that teens get has dropped significantly. Only about half of them regularly get more than seven hours of sleep, with older teens sleeping less than younger ones — which, given that the recommended amount is eight to 10 hours, is bad news. This is bad news for all sorts of reasons. Our bodies need sleep. When we get less sleep, not only are we cranky, we are less able to learn new information, our reaction times are longer, we may have behavioral changes or men...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Sleep Source Type: blogs

Probiotics for bipolar disorder mania
This study adds to the data that suggest gut flora has an effect on psychiatric diseases. We still do not know if an intestinal microbiome disarray is the cause of mania and bipolar disorder. However, this research supports an assertion that overall inflammation is associated with gut inflammation, which in turn can modulate mood disorders, or at least severe cases of mania for bipolar patients. The evidence of a “gut-brain axis principle” is more robust, especially after some studies showing that the type of bacteria that live in our bowels could cause brain inflammation. This most recent research indicates th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 25, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Probiotics Source Type: blogs

Physician burnout can affect your health
There is a severe and worsening epidemic of physician burnout in the United States, which threatens the health of doctors and patients alike. What is burnout? How does it affect doctors? And, how can this affect patient care? Finally, what can be done about this issue, to breathe life and energy back into the field of medicine? What does physician burnout look like? Burnout among doctors is generally described in terms of a loss of enthusiasm for one’s work, a decline in satisfaction and joy, and an increase in detachment, emotional exhaustion, and cynicism. It manifests in disproportionately high rates of depression...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 22, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Health Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Sun protection: Appropriate sunscreen use
Summer holidays are here and the sunny, warm weather is in full swing. Now is not the time to get lazy about sun protection! Sun: The good and the not-so-good Sunlight is essential for many important bodily functions, including producing vitamin D and maintaining your circadian rhythm and mood. Yet too much sun exposure can also be harmful. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation may result in short-term and long-term skin damage, including sunburn, signs of aging, and even skin cancer. Approximately one out of five people in the United States may develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. Approximately 95% of the UV radiation reaching ou...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dominic Wu, MD Tags: Health Prevention Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Dietary rut? 5 ways to snap out of it
Why is it that despite so many interesting foods in the world, we sometimes fall into dietary rut? For busy working families, lapsing into a boring menu routine may be due to a lack of time, planning, or know-how. Years ago, when I anchored the local TV news at dinnertime, my husband Jay made noodles with takeout meatballs so often that our three kids (even the baby) would tease him about it. “I didn’t know how to cook and I didn’t give much thought to dinner until everybody was hungry,” remembers Jay, my prince who would work all day, pick up the kids, and feed them before I got home. “We&rsq...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Separating children and parents at the border causes lifelong damage
There is an important scientific fact that we need to be aware of as the political drama at the border unfolds: when children are separated from their parents, they can be damaged for the rest of their lives. Research shows that when children face strong, frequent, or prolonged adversity without adequate support from adults, it causes a stress response that can have terrible consequences. This “toxic stress” affects both the mind and the body. It disrupts normal brain development, leading to not just emotional problems, but problems with thinking and learning. Children who are exposed to toxic stress have a hig...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Source Type: blogs

Lyme disease: Resolving the “Lyme wars”
It’s finally getting warm here in New England, and most of us have plans to enjoy the beautiful weather. And that’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report raising awareness about how to prevent the tickborne infections that typically occur during this time of the year. Lyme disease is probably the most well-known, and the one for which diagnosis and treatment are most controversial. What is Lyme disease? Several countries around the world, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, and all 50 states in the US have already reported cases of Lyme. The disease is caused by ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

Swimming lessons: 10 things parents should know
Before going any further, here’s the main thing parents should know about swimming lessons: all children should have them. Every day, about 10 people die from drowning. Swimming lessons can’t prevent all of those deaths, but they can prevent a lot of them. A child doesn’t need to be able to swim butterfly or do flip turns, but the ability to get back to the surface, float, tread water, and swim to where they can stand or grab onto something can save a life. Here are some other things parents should know as they think about swimming lessons: 1.   Children don’t really have the cognitive ski...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Safety Source Type: blogs

“What ifs”: An underappreciated side effect of addiction
Shortly after our son, William, died of an accidental heroin overdose at age 24, I stumbled upon this unflinching reflection of addiction as a family disease: “Addiction isn’t a spectator sport. Eventually the entire family gets to play.” It is a disease that can yield many symptoms, many different forms of expression, not just the physical symptoms and silent longings suffered by the person whose system is under the thrall of the substances they’ve come to crave. It is not a disease family members get to choose. We may try to deny its existence, but even that “choice” is a symptom of th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Bill Williams Tags: Addiction Source Type: blogs

Exercise as part of cancer treatment
In a first, a national cancer organization has issued formal guidelines recommending exercise as part of cancer treatment, for all cancer patients. The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) is very clear on the directive. Its recommendations are: Exercise should be embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care and viewed as an adjunct therapy that helps counteract the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment. All members of the multi-disciplinary cancer team should promote physical activity and help their patients adhere to exercise guidelines. Best practice cancer care should include referral to an accr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Cancer Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

Skin serum: What it can and can ’t do
Many things improve with age; unfortunately, your skin is not one of them. Wrinkles, brown spots, and general dullness often start to creep in as the years tick by. To reverse these problems many women are turning to a skin serum. Serums are light, easily absorbed oil- or water-based liquids that you spread on your skin. They typically come in small bottles with a dropper, and you only need a few drops to treat your whole face. A skin serum is not a moisturizer, like a lotion or cream, says Dr. Abigail Waldman, instructor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. Rather, they are highly concentrated formulations that are d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Healthy Aging Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Dogs and health: A lower risk for heart disease-related death?
This study only found that dog owners tend to live longer and have fewer heart attacks than those without dogs. But that does not prove dog ownership itself it the reason. Maybe healthier, more active people get dogs more often than sedentary people, and it’s that self-selection that accounts for the observations of this latest research. It’s also possible that economic factors play an important role. Dog ownership can be expensive, and those who can most afford to own a dog might receive better healthcare, have better health insurance, or have healthier lifestyles. While the researchers tried to account for so...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Prescription monitoring programs: Helpful or harmful?
The crushing toll of the opioid crisis is daily news, including stories about ways to “fix” it. A wide array of initiatives has been brought forward in an attempt to curb this epidemic and the damage it causes. Prescription monitoring programs (PMPs) are one of them. The goal of PMPs is a good one — to identify patients who are being prescribed multiple medications by multiple clinicians. It is a means to introduce some stewardship for preventing overuse and misuse of prescription drugs. How prescription monitoring programs work Prescription monitoring programs are state-based electronic databases that pr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Stephen P. Wood, MS, ACNP-BC Tags: Addiction Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

Music and heart health
What’s your “cheer up” song? That question popped up on a recent text thread among a few of my longtime friends. It spurred a list of songs from the ‘70s and ‘80s, back when we were in high school and college. But did you know that music may actually help boost your health as well as your mood? Music engages not only your auditory system but many other parts of your brain as well, including areas responsible for movement, language, attention, memory, and emotion. “There is no other stimulus on earth that simultaneously engages our brains as widely as music does,” says Brian Harris,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Genealogy testing: Prepare for the emotional reaction
The availability of home genealogy testing has made exploring genealogy popular and easy to do. This has led to many interesting stories of people meeting long lost relatives, learning that their heritage is not what they thought, and even discovering that they are not genetically related to people they thought were blood relatives. While much has been written about privacy concerns related to DNA genealogy testing and how that information is shared, it seems there is little attention paid to preparing people for the emotions they may experience in reaction to what they may discover. This preparation includes considering w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd Tags: Genes Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Genealogy testing – Prepare for the emotional reaction
The availability of home genealogy testing has made exploring genealogy popular and easy to do. This has led to many interesting stories of people meeting long lost relatives, learning that their heritage is not what they thought, and even discovering that they are not genetically related to people they thought were blood relatives. While much has been written about privacy concerns related to DNA genealogy testing and how that information is shared, it seems there is little attention paid to preparing people for the emotions they may experience in reaction to what they may discover. This preparation includes considering w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd Tags: Genes Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Secondhand marijuana smoke and kids
For years, we’ve talked about the danger to children of secondhand tobacco smoke. It makes asthma worse, increases the risk of respiratory and ear infections — and even increases the risk of sudden death in infants. We’ve had all sorts of educational campaigns for parents and caregivers, and have made some progress: between 2002 and 2015, smoking among parents of children less than 18 years old dropped from 27.6% to 20.2%. But now there is a new problem: secondhand marijuana smoke. Studies show that when you are around someone who is smoking marijuana, the smoke gets into your system too. How much of...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

When your child ends up in the emergency room
I recently wrote about a walk I took with my sons, where I slipped, falling onto my youngest who fell onto a rock, which cut his forehead and meant a trip to the emergency room for four stitches. It wasn’t our first visit, but thankfully, it’s never been for anything dire. My kids have just run into and jumped off a variety of things, so there’s been broken bones, forehead cuts (they have matching pairs), along with spiked temperatures that invariably happen when the pediatrician’s office isn’t open. I’m pretty good at keeping my head, but I’m not at my best in an ED. I end up bein...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 4, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Children's Health Injuries Parenting Source Type: blogs

Anxiety: What it is, what to do
While anxiety symptoms vary widely, odds are good that at some point you’ve experienced occasional physical and emotional distress signals such as panicky breathing, your heart pounding in your chest, trouble sleeping, feelings of dread, or even loops of worry. That’s normal. By itself, anxiety isn’t a problem. It anchors the protective biological response to danger that boosts heartbeat and breathing, pumping oxygenated blood to your muscles as your body prepares to fight or flee. A dollop of healthy anxiety can persuade you to get to work on time, push you to study hard for an exam, or discourage you fr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 1, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Francesca Coltrera Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Mental Health Stress Source Type: blogs

Fertility and diet: Is there a connection?
Here are some headlines on fertility and diet that caught our attention: The ultimate fertility diet: We reveal what to eat and what to avoid Here’s what to eat if you’re trying to get pregnant Trying to get pregnant? Foods to eat and avoid to boost fertility Wow! Who knew that your choices at tonight’s dinner buffet could transform you into a parent? Not so fast — let’s look at the new study that’s causing all the fuss. A new study of fertility and diet Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School have just published a review of past studies ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 31, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Family Planning and Pregnancy Fertility Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Obesity is complicated — and so is treating it
Many people don’t think of obesity as a disease, but rather as a moral failing. But Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and researcher and practicing physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center, points out that obesity is a complex, chronic disease. Stanford’s recent fascinating and informative presentation explains how the body uses and stores energy, and describes the complex interplay of the genetic, developmental, hormonal, environmental, and behavioral factors that contribute to obesity. Obesity isn’t just “calories in versus calories bur...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 30, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Teething-pain remedy dangers
Teething can be hard on babies. It can hurt as teeth break through the gums. While some babies weather it fine, others are downright miserable. It’s hard to watch a baby be miserable, so it’s understandable that some parents and caregivers reach for one of the products that contain benzocaine, which can numb the gums and soothe the pain. Except that it’s a really bad idea. The problem with benzocaine for teething Benzocaine is found in products like Baby Orajel, Anbesol, or Orabase, as well as products marketed for sore throats such as Cepacol or Chloraseptic. But along with numbing pain, benzocaine can c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Dental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Ticked off: America ’s quiet epidemic of tickborne diseases
For most of us, springtime marks the return of life to a dreary landscape, bringing birdsong, trees in bud, and daffodils in bloom. But if you work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coming of spring means the return of nasty diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes. The killjoys at CDC celebrated the end of winter with a bummer of a paper showing that infections spread by ticks doubled in the United States from 2004 to 2016. (Tick populations have exploded in recent decades, perhaps due to climate change and loss of biodiversity.) Lyme disease The most common infection spread by ticks in the US i...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 25, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

Move more every day to combat a sedentary lifestyle
When I was in high school, I mowed my grandmother’s lawn once a week. Yet every time I arrived, she would have already mowed a small part of the back yard. I always told her she didn’t need to do that, but she insisted. At the time I didn’t understand why she felt compelled to do this every week, but now that I’m inching closer and closer to her age then, I get it: it was something she could do to stay active. She knew that to stave off the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, it is important to move more every day. The older we get, the more likely we are to lapse into a sedentary lifestyle. In f...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 24, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Could medications contribute to dementia?
Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses that cause dementia are devastating, not only for those affected but also for their friends and family. For most forms of dementia, there is no highly effective treatment. For example, available treatments for Alzheimer’s disease may slow the deterioration a bit, but they don’t reverse the condition. In fact, for most people taking medications for dementia, it may be difficult to know if the treatment is working at all. Experts predict that dementia will become much more common in the coming years. We badly need a better understanding of the cause of these condition...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Brain and cognitive health Drugs and Supplements Memory Source Type: blogs

6 reasons children need to play outside
Here’s something really simple you can do to improve your child’s chance of future health and success: make sure he spends plenty of time playing outside. There are many ways in which this generation’s childhood is different from that of the last generation, but one of the most abrupt contrasts is the degree to which it is being spent indoors. There are lots of reasons, including the marked increase in time spent interacting with electronic devices, the emphasis on scheduled activities and achievements, concerns about sun exposure — and, for many families, the lack of safe outdoor places to play. It...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 22, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Choosing life with a VAD (ventricular assist device)
Rain splattered, blurring my view of the Massachusetts state highway. The rental car’s wipers squeaked as they dragged across the windshield. Though I was briefly tempted to turn back, I kept driving. The man with the battery-operated heart had invited me to his home, and I didn’t want to be late. I am a critical care doctor. Throughout the course of my training, I have learned how to manage a ventilator, how to treat sepsis, how to sort out the causes of renal failure. But what I didn’t learn is what comes after for those who do not die, whose lives are extended by days, months, or even years as a result...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Daniela J. Lamas, MD Tags: End of life Health Heart Health Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

PrEP: Protection against HIV in a pill?
HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) weakens the human immune system and destroys the important cells that fight disease and infection. A person can get HIV when bodily fluids — including blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, or vaginal fluids of a person with the virus — come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue. HIV can be transmitted through breast milk, or when a contaminated needle or syringe comes into direct contact with the bloodstream. There is no cure for HIV, but with proper medical care the virus and its effects can be controlled. HIV transmission can be reduced by consist...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG Tags: Health HIV Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

The psychology of Internet rage
Have you ever noticed that you tend to get a lot angrier on the road with other drivers than you do with people in the rest of your life? To a large degree, the experience of road rage is universal, and can be explained by the emotional distance that is created between drivers when there is both physical separation and a high potential for perceived slights and wrongdoing. The relative anonymity of driving leads to an exaggerated emotional response when feeling slighted or threatened, in part because all you may know of the other driver is that he or she just cut you off. It makes sense that you might react more angrily in...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Adam P. Stern, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Source Type: blogs

Fermented foods for better gut health
Naturally fermented foods are getting a lot of attention from health experts these days because they may help strengthen your gut microbiome—the 100 trillion or so bacteria and microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Researchers are beginning to link these tiny creatures to all sorts of health conditions from obesity to neurodegenerative diseases. Fermented foods are preserved using an age-old process that not only boosts the food’s shelf life and nutritional value, but can give your body a dose of healthy probiotics, which are live microorganisms crucial to healthy digestion, says Dr. David S. Ludwig...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Digestive Disorders Folk remedies Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

4 things to know about ticks and Lyme
As the weather gets better and school vacations begin, along with sunburns and water safety there is something else parents need to think about: ticks and Lyme disease. Lyme disease is spread by the bite of the blacklegged tick. While there are cases in various parts of the country, it’s most common in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, as well as around the Great Lakes. The early symptoms of Lyme include fever, body aches, and a bull’s-eye rash. It’s very treatable with antibiotics, but if not caught and left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems. Here is information from the Centers for ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs

Knuckle cracking: Annoying and harmful, or just annoying?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Knuckle cracking is a common behavior enjoyed by many. It can become a habit or a way to deal with nervous energy; some describe it as a way to “release tension.” For some, it’s simply an annoying thing that other people do. If you’ve ever wondered why stretching the fingers in certain ways causes that familiar noise or whether knuckle cracking is harmful in some way, read on. Despite how common it is, there has been considerable debate regarding where the noise comes from. Fortunately — at least for those of us who are curious about it — knuckle cracki...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Bones and joints Health Source Type: blogs

The bacterial horror of hot-air hand dryers
Follow me on Twitter @JohnRossMD If you’re the kind of person who avoids public bathrooms at all costs, you may feel validated, as well as disturbed, by a new study from researchers at the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University. They suspected that hot-air hand dryers in public restrooms might be sucking up bacteria from the air, and dumping them on the newly washed hands of unsuspecting patrons. To test this theory, scientists exposed petri dishes to bathroom air under different conditions and took them back to the microbiology laboratory to look for bacterial growth. Petri dishes exposed to bathroom ai...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs