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Heart rate variability: A new way to track well-being
Information is knowledge, and big tech companies know how important it is to collect and track data. When it comes to your health, it is now easy to measure and track all kinds of information. In the comfort of our homes we can check our weight, blood pressure, number of steps, calories, heart rate, and blood sugar. Recently some researchers have started to use an interesting marker for resilience and behavioral flexibility. It is called heart rate variability (HRV). Have you ever wondered what the health impact of a stressful day was? Will you perform well during your long run tomorrow morning? Is there anything you can d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Exercise and Fitness Prevention Source Type: blogs

10 signs that a child ’s stomachache could be something serious
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Stomachaches are incredibly common in children. Most of the time they are nothing serious at all. Most are just from a mild stomach bug, or some constipation, or hunger — or are a child’s way of getting out of something they don’t want to do. But a stomachache can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem. A stomachache worries doctors when… 1.  The pain is severe. By severe, I mean that the child cannot be distracted from it, and is crying or otherwise showing that they are extremely uncomfortable. Any severe pain warrants a trip to the doctor, whether it&rs...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 21, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Digestive Disorders Parenting Source Type: blogs

Insurance plan networks: 5 things you need to know
Follow me on Twitter @dianewshannon My 18-year-old daughter recently moved to a university about 1,500 miles away to study theater. Tears, texts, and several care packages later, she settled in, only to develop a hamstring injury that prevented her from participating in required dance classes. In short, she needed several months of physical therapy. After searching for options near the university, she told me that visits would cost as much as $200 each. Our health insurance plan only covers urgent or emergency care outside of our local area, and physical therapy was not considered urgent. When she enrolled, we had assumed ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH Tags: Health Health care Source Type: blogs

New high blood pressure guidelines: Think your blood pressure is fine? Think again …
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association certainly grabbed the attention of us busy primary care physicians with the recent release of their updated blood pressure guidelines. These organizations had piqued interest by declaring the release date and labeling it as “highly anticipated.” I pooh-poohed all that drama, but upon reading through the 114-page executive summary PDF with 21 authors and almost a thousand references, I have to say, I am duly impressed. The definition of the diagnosis of high blood pressure and the decision-making process surrounding treatment have traditionall...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 17, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Health Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Prevention Source Type: blogs

Self-care: 4 ways to nourish body and soul
There’s a lot of talk about self-care these days, but what is it really? Self-care means paying attention to and supporting one’s own physical and mental health. It is also a big part of treatment for many physical and mental health disorders. It’s so, so important. But, it’s also one of the first things to fall by the wayside in times of stress, especially for those who are primary caregivers. This includes parents, people caring for elderly relatives, healthcare providers, and first responders. These are the people who often put the well-being of others above themselves. This is a big problem. Why...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 16, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Mind body medicine Prevention Stress Source Type: blogs

Looking under the hood: How brain science informs addiction treatment
As a neuroscientist I have been trained to think in a certain way, almost like a car mechanic, who “looks under the hood” at the brains of laboratory rats exposed to drugs. If we can figure out exactly which genes, proteins, brain regions, and neural connections go awry in substance use disorders (SUDs), we can fix those “broken” parts in the brain and design better long-term approaches to addiction treatment. While there is great promise in this approach, it’s not so easy to get under the hood of people who desperately need help with a SUD. It’s very different from working with lab rats...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elena H. Chartoff, PhD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health substance use disorders (SUDs) Source Type: blogs

New app helps parents track and encourage their child ’s development
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Most parents, at some time or another, wonder whether their child is doing everything they are supposed to do. Are they ahead of other children? Are they behind? Is their development normal? Now there is a really good app for that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new free app called the Milestone Tracker. It has five components: A detailed “Milestone Checklist.” For children ages 2 months through 5 years, it goes through all the different milestones for that age (when I tried it out for a 12-month-old, there were 27 milestones) so parents can see if ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 14, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

What ’s new with the flu shot?
Should you get the influenza (flu) vaccine this year? The short, quick answer (barring any medical reasons you shouldn’t, such as severe allergies), is yes! But recent research raises another important question: When should you get the shot? Why a flu shot every year in the first place? Getting infected with the flu can be dangerous — we’ve seen patients in the ICU who were previously healthy but had a horrible response to a strain of the virus and became very sick. Every year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies release flu vaccination guidelines in late summer to early...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dominic Wu, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Health Infectious diseases Prevention Vaccines Source Type: blogs

The cost of chronic pain
There is a saying that being poor is expensive. From personal experience, I know this to be true. But I think it also needs to be said that, especially in the United States, chronic illness can be quite expensive as well. In fact, there is a huge intersection between poverty and disability/illness. As with many intersections, it is a chicken-or-egg scenario, difficult to determine which is begetting which. But one thing is clear: there are often blind spots about these expenses in the medical community and how they can impact chronically ill people already struggling with finances. Recently I attended a seminar on the topi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 10, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Laura Kiesel Tags: Health Health care Health policy Pain Management Source Type: blogs

I love my kids but they ’ve ruined my neck
I recently wrote about how my oldest son learned how to ride a bike. His excitement got me to buy a used one, mostly because running after him down the street wasn’t going to be a solid long-range plan. Now, Milo and I get to explore on two wheels. We discovered a pond with ducks not far from the house and we’ve met a lot more people in the neighborhood, mostly ones who own dogs. It’s also been a great way to show him what I want him to do on the bike — stay to the side of the road, wait until cars stop before you cross, and look behind you to see … Maybe not that one. I once had that easy ra...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 9, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Health Pain Management Parenting neck pain Source Type: blogs

We heard you — incontinence affects men too. Here’s what you need to know
As men age, the simple act of urinating can get complicated. Prostate surgery often leaves men vulnerable to leakage when they cough, sneeze, or just rise from a chair. Or the bladder may become impatient, suddenly demanding that you find a bathroom right now. “Thousands of years ago, it was not as much of an issue,” observes Dr. Anurag Das, a urologist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “There were lots of trees, and you could just find one and go.” But tricky bladders can be whipped into shape. The first step is a careful assessment of what triggers those difficult moments...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Health Healthy Aging Incontinence Men's Health Prostate Health Source Type: blogs

Using social media to help parents get vaccine questions answered
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire As a pediatrician, I know that many times when parents are hesitant about vaccines, it’s because of something they read on the Internet. Sadly, much of the anti-vaccine information that is out there is either misinformation or misconstrued information — but once parents have read it, it’s not always easy to convince them that it’s misinformation or misconstrued. I’ve often wished that we could find more ways to get good vaccine information on the Internet, and give parents a way to get their questions answered and concerns allayed there, rather than getting worri...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 7, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Family Planning and Pregnancy Parenting Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Are sprouted grains more nutritious than regular whole grains?
My local farmers’ market was busy with the Saturday morning bustle of people buying homemade goods and locally grown fruits and vegetables. One of the vendors had a swarm of customers inspecting freshly baked breads. “They’re sprouted-grain breads,” the baker told me, and explained that they tasted better and were healthier than regular whole-grain breads. A sample was delicious — the recipe included sprouted Kamut and spelt, and the bread had a nutty flavor — but was it more nutritious than the regular whole-grain bread I’d just purchased from another vendor? About sprouted grains...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 6, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Researchers may have discovered a cause of multiple sclerosis
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that causes damage to the substance that covers nerve cells. This interrupts normal communication between nerves, leading to problems with movement, speech, and other functions. We don’t know what causes MS but we think it is an autoimmune disease. What is an autoimmune disease? Autoimmune diseases develop when a person’s immune system goes after its own tissues and organs. Autoimmune disease can affect all parts of the body. For example: Type 1 diabetes. This is the type that usually affects kids and develops when abnormal antibodies at...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 3, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Injuries Neurological conditions Prevention Safety MS multiple sclerosis Source Type: blogs

Addiction, the opioid crisis, and family pain
In 2015, the opioid crisis was escalating to emergency-level proportions, claiming as many lives as car accidents. As the daughter of a longtime drug addict, the current burgeoning opioid epidemic managed to be both familiar and strange to me at the same time. My mother developed her addictions during the height of drug epidemics that occurred in New York City in the mid-1980s. The timeframe also marked the infancy of the AIDS crisis and the height of Reagan-era “Just Say No” programs. Back then, addiction was treated and viewed more as a crime than a disease, supposedly committed by scoundrels and misfits. The...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 2, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Laura Kiesel Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Source Type: blogs

Taking an anticlotting drug? If you need a procedure, be prepared
Millions of people with cardiovascular disease take drugs that help prevent blood clots, which can lodge in a vessel and choke off the blood supply to part of a leg, lung, or the brain. These potentially lifesaving medications include warfarin (Coumadin) and a class of drugs called non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants or NOACs. Examples include dabigatran (Pradaxa) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto). However, if you’re taking one of these drugs and need an invasive procedure — anything from a tooth extraction to a hip replacement — managing the risks can be tricky, says cardiologist Dr. Gregory Piazza, ass...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 1, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Heart Health Surgery anticlotting drug anticlotting drugs Source Type: blogs

Why parents should save their baby ’s cord blood — and give it away
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire The blood left over in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born has special cells in it that can treat and even cure some serious diseases. The blood can be collected and stored — and that’s what many private cord blood banking companies encourage parents to do, in case their child (or someone else in the family) develops one of those diseases in the future. The American Academy of Pediatrics wants parents to collect that cord blood. But instead of keeping it for themselves, they would like them to give it away to a public cord blood bank. Cord blood contains cells cal...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 31, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Family Planning and Pregnancy Parenting Source Type: blogs

Fitting in fitness for busy people
Today I led a small group of medical students on inpatient rounds. We had a patient on the seventh floor of the hospital. As I always do, I headed for the stairs, but told the students they could take the elevators if they wanted. (I promised them that they wouldn’t lose any points on their academic performance!) And as they usually do, they decided to join me in the stairwell. Yes, we huffed and puffed a bit, but we still chatted, discussing fitness the whole time. I take the stairs for many reasons, not the least of which is a frightening malfunctioning elevator experience from several years ago (a long story invol...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 30, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

5 things parents and teachers need to know about ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a childhood disorder that affects as many as one out of 10 children in the United States. Even though it’s fairly common, many misconceptions still persist. So here are five important things you should know if you are a parent or a teacher of a child with ADHD. 1. The hallmark symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Most kids are inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive at times. But for a diagnosis of ADHD, these symptoms must interfere significantly in multiple places, such as at school and at home. This is a childhood disorder, meaning the sympto...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen Braaten, PhD Tags: Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

4 tips for teaching your child how to ride a bike “on the road”
I’ve been a parent for six years, and I still feel like I’ve always just missed some two-week window that would easily set up my oldest for the rest of his life. First it was swimming, then play dates, then soccer. The latest was riding a bike. In August, Milo was past 5 and a half years old and ripping his Big Wheel through the neighborhood. He loved it, but I feared that I had blown the chance to teach him to ride a two-wheeler before kindergarten started. So, me being me, I scrambled and tried to undo time. I bought him a used BMX bike and removed the pedals. He went up and down our sidewalk; the cracks and ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Contrary to popular belief, epidurals don ’ t prolong labor. Phew.
This study confirms what many of us suspected. Women don’t need the incentive or focus of pain to push a baby out. They need verbal support and guidance! There’s no other place in medicine where we would subject a woman to pain and not offer pain relief. And now we can do so without women feeling guilt or fault if they have a cesarean (not that they should ever feel that way — except they do). The post Contrary to popular belief, epidurals don’t prolong labor. Phew. appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Source: Harvard Health Blog)
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 25, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Hope Ricciotti, MD Tags: Health Pain Management Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

What parents should know — and do — about young children and mobile devices
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Did you know that 42% of US children ages 0 to 8 have their own mobile device? That’s one of the many interesting findings of the Common Sense Media Census: Media Use by Kids Zero to Eight. Researchers interviewed 1,454 parents of children 0 to 8, whose ethnicity, education, and socioeconomic status were representative of the US as a whole. Essentially all homes had a mobile device, up from half in 2011. Ninety-five percent of homes had a smartphone, 78% had a tablet, and, as I said before, 42% of children had their own mobile device. What’s interesting is that the 42% number was ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 24, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Activity trackers: Can they really help you get fit?
This study follows another one from the University of Pittsburgh that found less weight loss among young adults who used fitness trackers compared to those who didn’t. What’s next? As technology evolves and research provides more information about what works (and what doesn’t), I think we’ll see a new generation of devices that are more customized to individual needs and medical conditions. For example, a person with diabetes might monitor physical activity to provide information about how to coordinate insulin injections and meals. In addition, activity trackers can do more than simply spit out inf...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 23, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health activity tracker Source Type: blogs

Study investigates treatment regret among prostate cancer survivors
As they get older, do men with prostate cancer come to regret the treatment decisions they made? A new study of men diagnosed during the mid-1990s indicates that some of them will. Richard Hoffman, a professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, led a team that reviewed survey data that men filled out one, two, five, and 15 years after they were treated for prostate cancer. All 934 men included in the study were 75 or younger when diagnosed, each with localized tumors confined to the prostate gland. Approximately 60% of the men had low-risk prostate cance...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Cancer Men's Health Prostate Health Source Type: blogs

Yoga could slow the harmful effects of stress and inflammation
Stress accounts for between 60% and 80% of visits to primary care doctors. Chronic stress has been linked to accelerated biological aging, and increased chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, two processes that cause cellular and genetic damage. Scientists refer to chronic, low-grade inflammation in the body as “inflammaging.” Inflammaging has been associated with conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stress, depression, and a weakened immune system. Several recent studies suggest that yoga could slow the harmful physical effects of stress and inflammaging. There are many different types of biomarkers in...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marlynn Wei, MD, JD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Stress Yoga Source Type: blogs

Urinary incontinence: Common and manageable
As a primary care doctor, I see a lot of women dealing with the inconvenience, discomfort, and embarrassment of urinary incontinence (unintended leaking of urine). Some are comfortable bringing this up right away. Others suffer needlessly because they feel too shy or awkward to mention it. The truth is, an estimated 45% of women experience some form of urinary incontinence at some point in their lives. That’s almost half of all women! It’s a very big deal. Urinary incontinence can negatively affect physical and emotional well-being. For example, women may avoid going out because they’re worried about havi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 18, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Kidney and urinary tract Women's Health Source Type: blogs

The best thing you can do to keep your child safe from bullying
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire If you want to stop your child from being bullied — or better yet, prevent it in the first place — there is a very simple thing you can do: talk to your child. I don’t so much mean talk to your child about standing up to bullies, or about letting a teacher know if they see or experience bullying, although both of those are important messages for your child to hear. I mean literally just talk to your child, so that you can better get to know him or her — and better get to know what their daily life is like. As parents, we like to think that we know this already. But the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 17, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Genetic testing to predict medication side effects
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Medication side effects are a big problem. It’s estimated that about half of filled prescriptions are not taken as directed, and a major reason for this is side effects. If you’ve ever had diarrhea, felt sleepy, or developed a rash after taking a new medication, you know how unpleasant side effects can be. And sometimes it’s much worse than unpleasant: drug side effects can cause permanent damage and even be deadly. Predicting success… and side effects Wouldn’t it be great if your doctor could predict which medication is most likely to work for you and least...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 16, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Genes Health Source Type: blogs

Write your anxieties away
In the late 1980s, psychologist James Pennebaker developed a form of writing therapy called expressive writing. When you engage in expressive writing, you write about your deepest thoughts and feelings without concern for spelling, grammar, or sentence construction. It is free-flowing and unfocused self-expression. Although not everybody benefits from expressive writing, recent studies have shown that expressive writing helps anxious individuals perform better on tests. We’re not sure exactly why this is, but one leading theory is that writing about test anxiety “offloads” worrisome thoughts, thereby free...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Srini Pillay, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Mental Health ease anxiety writing Source Type: blogs

Exercise: Can a few minutes a day keep a hip fracture away?
This study is so important because it really gives all of us such a reasonable goal. Can we give it our strongest effort for one to two minutes a day? I think we can. It also shows that if we make a small, measurable, but regular change, we can all dance, run, jog, jump, or hop our way to better health! The post Exercise: Can a few minutes a day keep a hip fracture away? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Source: Harvard Health Blog)
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Nandini Mani, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Osteoporosis bone health brittle bones Source Type: blogs

Good news about the HPV vaccine
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Did you know certain viruses can cause cancer? Two common examples include hepatitis C (which is linked with liver cancer) and human papilloma virus (HPV, which causes cervical cancer). The discovery of these virus-cancer connections is particularly important, because if a vaccine can prevent these viral infections it may also prevent cancer. And there is preliminary evidence that the HPV vaccine is making this happen. More on that in a moment. What is HPV? HPV is a group of viruses that may cause warts (papillomas) and a variety of cancers, including those involving the throat, rect...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 11, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Infectious diseases Prevention Sexual Conditions Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Talking to children about tragedies in the news
The news these days is overwhelming in its awfulness. There have been horrible hurricanes, the earthquake in Mexico — and the incomprehensible shootings in Las Vegas. It’s been so awful, and so unrelenting, that it is hard to even process it. Imagine processing it as a child? Our first instinct is usually to shelter our children from the news and not say anything about it to them at all. That’s completely understandable, and if your child is very young or you are certain for some other reason that they aren’t going to hear about it, then not saying anything is a viable option. But if they aren&rsquo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 10, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Women and pain: Disparities in experience and treatment
In August, The New York Times published a guest op-ed by a man named David Roberts who suffered from severe chronic pain for many years before finally finding relief. The piece immediately went viral, with distinguished news journalist and personality Dan Rather posting it to his Facebook page with the addendum that it could “offer hope” to some pain patients. However, for many of us in the chronic pain community, particularly women, the piece was regarded with weariness and frustration. The first and most prominent source of annoyance for me regarding this piece was the part when the author finally discloses h...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 9, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Laura Kiesel Tags: Behavioral Health Pain Management Women's Health Source Type: blogs

A doctor ’s recipe for a healthy breakfast
When I look at the typical breakfast food offerings at many restaurants, supermarkets, and food trucks, and I think about the health of our nation, I want to cry. Muffins, bagels, donuts, pancakes, waffles, French toast sticks… Want some bacon, sausage, or fried potatoes with that, ma’am? Then there’s what marketing tells you is a “well-balanced breakfast”: the image of a big bowl of cereal and a few decorative strawberries on top, with a tall glass of orange juice. You get the idea that you need the calcium in that milk, that vitamin C in that orange juice, and the carbs in that cereal for e...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 6, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Health Healthy Eating nutrition Source Type: blogs

The secret to happiness? Here ’s some advice from the longest-running study on happiness
I have always considered myself a happy person, even though I may not always look it thanks to inheriting my father’s furrowed brow. Are there times when I’m not happy? Of course. Do I wish I could be happier more often? Who wouldn’t? While it seems everyone is looking for the answer to the age-old question, “What’s the secret to happiness?” the better question may be, “Is it even possible to be happier?” About half of our level of happiness is based on genes. Some people are just predisposed to be happier and more upbeat than others. But that does not mean you cannot increas...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Aging Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Why you can ’t get a song out of your head and what to do about it
Conclusion In most cases, earworms are neutral to pleasant, not serious, and may even be part of your brain’s creative process. In a few cases, especially when they continue for more than 24 hours, earworms may indicate something more serious. In those cases, seeing your primary care physician may help you metaphorically take the needle off the stuck record so that you can regain your peace of mind. The post Why you can’t get a song out of your head and what to do about it appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Source: Harvard Health Blog)
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 4, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Srini Pillay, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Why parents should use responsive feeding with their babies
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire The habits we learn early can stay with us for a lifetime — which is why it’s better to learn good habits early, not bad ones. This is especially true with eating habits. More and more, research shows that overweight babies grow into overweight children, who grow into overweight adults. One of the very best ways to prevent obesity is to start before they are two years old, preferably right at birth. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics really wants parents to know about responsive feeding. Most parents feel better when their baby eats more — and eats on a pred...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 3, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Healthy Eating Parenting Source Type: blogs

The mysterious rise in knee osteoarthritis
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is by far the most common. Osteoarthritis is the form of joint disease that’s often called “wear-and-tear” or “age-related,” although it’s more complicated than that. While it tends to affect older adults, it is not a matter of “wearing out” your joints the way tires on your car wear out over time. Your genes, your weight, and other factors contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. Since genes don’t change quickly across populations, the rise in prevalence of osteo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 2, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Health Osteoarthritis Source Type: blogs

Time to rethink the debate on PSA testing
For most of us, whether to screen for cancer is a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want a simple test to prevent cancer or identify it at an earlier, more treatable stage? However, as with many things, the screening decision is more complex than it may appear. For example, the test may not be particularly “simple,” such as undergoing screening colonoscopy. For prostate cancer, even after 30-plus years of using a screening blood test called the prostate specific antigen, or PSA, it still isn’t clear how well it prevents prostate cancer deaths. This has led to conflicting and changing recommendations about wh...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 29, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH Tags: Cancer Health Men's Health Prostate Health Source Type: blogs

Diabetes: Adding lifestyle changes to medication can deliver a knockout punch
Plenty of research supports the common-sense notion that a healthy lifestyle can prevent or treat many diseases. A diet high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and plant protein and low in processed carbs, added sugars, saturated fats; regular physical activity; and emotional well-being are the potent treatments that can prevent the need for or even replace many prescription medications. Yet lifestyle interventions are still not “mainstreamed” into primary care. The power of lifestyle changes for diabetes Here is yet another study supporting intensive lifestyle intervention, this time for diabetes. The study aut...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diabetes Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

Flu shots during pregnancy
Is your head already spinning from all of the confusing information about the safety of routine vaccinations? Well, news of the latest findings regarding the flu vaccine during pregnancy certainly won’t help things. A group of researchers recently reported an association between a pregnant woman getting the flu vaccine and having a miscarriage. The authors were clear that the study could not establish that flu shots cause miscarriage. It could only report the observation that, in this small group of women, miscarriage was slightly more common within 28 days of getting the flu shot. But only in women who had also gott...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrea Chisholm, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Family Planning and Pregnancy Health Infectious diseases Prevention Vaccines Women's Health Source Type: blogs

4 ways to help your child get enough sleep
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Children need sleep, plain and simple. We all do. Without enough sleep, we get cranky and, with time, unhealthy. But for children, it’s especially important because the effects of sleep deprivation can lead to lifelong problems. Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can contribute to obesity. But even more troubling, studies show that children who don’t get enough sleep can end up with behavioral and learning problems that persist for years and affect a child’s life forever. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for depression and learning...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Sleep Source Type: blogs

The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee
In conclusion… It’s unusual that a food on the “cancer risk list” comes off of it — and it’s even more unusual that such foods then become considered a healthy choice. But, as the millions of people drinking coffee every day will tell you, when it comes to coffee, there’s nothing like it. The post The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Source: Harvard Health Blog)
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 25, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Leaky gut: What is it, and what does it mean for you?
Before the medical community had better understanding of the mechanisms that cause disease, doctors believed certain ailments could originate from imbalances in the stomach. This was called hypochondriasis. (In Ancient Greek, hypochondrium refers to the upper part of the abdomen, the region between the breastbone and the navel.) This concept was rejected as science evolved and, for example, we could look under a microscope and see bacteria, parasites, and viruses. The meaning of the term changed, and for many years doctors used the word “hypochondriac” to describe a person who has a persistent, often inexplicab...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

New treatment for endometriosis on the horizon
Let’s face it: managing your period is a hassle. There’s the cramping, the bloating, the bleeding, and the feeling a little cranky. Not to mention the need to remember to have tampons and ibuprofen on hand. There may also be the bad timing of a special occasion or a tropical vacation that complicates things further. But as aggravating as all this may be, for most women it’s just that: an aggravation, a nuisance that’s pretty easily dealt with. But for about one in 10 women, their period, the week leading up to their period, and in some cases their entire month can be filled with severe cramps and pe...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 21, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrea Chisholm, MD Tags: Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Men (back) at work
My father was ecstatic when he retired from the US Postal Service after 30 years. But it didn’t take long before he began to miss the packlike male bonding he took for granted: group lunches, team projects, water cooler banter. When they were gone, it left a big hole in his life. “Men acquire friends through shared experiences like sports, the military, and work,” says Dr. Richard S. Schwartz, a psychiatrist with Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital. “When one source is eliminated, men tend to lose some of those friends over time and have to find other ways to connect with people and fill those missin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Health Healthy Aging Men's Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

What parents should know about tattoos
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire These days, tattoos are increasingly common. According to a 2015 Harris poll, three in 10 American adults have a tattoo — up from two in 10 in 2012. They are particularly popular in young people; among Millennials, nearly half have a tattoo. In most states, you have to be at least 18 to get a tattoo, but with parental permission, in many states you can get one sooner. Given the popularity of tattoos, this means that lots of parents are having conversations with their teens about tattoos — and having to decide whether or not they should say yes to one. To help parents make this tou...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Why does hair turn gray?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling If you look at photos of President Obama taken before he ran for president and since he left office, you’ll notice a distinct difference: where there used to be only dark brown hair, there is now far more gray than brown. It seems that the stress of running a country would turn any person’s hair gray. But is stress really to blame? And why does hair turn gray, even for those of us who don’t have jobs quite as stressful as President of the United States? Stress doesn’t actually turn hair gray. In fact, hair doesn’t actually “turn” gray. Once a hair...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 18, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

A blog post on blog posts: Fact, fiction, and friction
A blog by definition is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or group, and is written in an informal or conversational style. As with any conversation, there is usually a blend of fact and opinion. In the case of a blog on medical topics, frequently the opinions are those of experts, and it is not uncommon for such opinions to lead to healthy debate. Fake news or skewed views? We make many decisions on the basis of research studies, and this is particularly the case in medicine. The non-medical media often does a good job of sensationalizing research in ways that are at times excessiv...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Feeling okay about feeling bad is good for your mental health
When you have a negative emotion, are you upset or disappointed in yourself? Do you feel “bad” or “guilty” about this emotion? If so, you may be at risk for poorer longer-term psychological health. A study in the July 2017 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology looked at the psychological health of people who accept, rather than negatively judge, their emotional experiences. Researchers found that accepting these experiences led to fewer negative emotions when confronted with daily stressors. The article reported on three separate, but related, studies that explored how accepting negative emot...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 14, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Mental Health Stress Source Type: blogs