Getting your baby to sleep through the night: The good (and maybe not-so-good) news
Getting your baby to sleep through the night: it’s the milestone all parents of infants long for. It’s understandable, given how precious and elusive a full night’s sleep can be for new parents. The quest for a full night of sleep becomes so important that many a book has been written on how to achieve it, and it’s a common topic of conversation among new parents. Those whose babies sleep through the night feel like they have accomplished something important — and those whose babies don’t sleep through the night are often wondering if there is something wrong with their baby or their par...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Putting a stop to leaky gut
Leaky gut gets blamed for everything from everyday stomach issues to pain to anxiety, yet it is one of the most mysterious ailments to diagnosis and treat. Part of the reason for this medical mystery is because the gut is such a vast and complex system. “Science continues to find new ways that the gut can influence everything from heart health to keeping our brains young,” says Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “There is much we know about leaky gut in terms of how it affects people’s health, but there...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

Hormone therapy for depression: Are the risks worth the benefits?
When you think of menopause, you might think of hot flashes and night sweats. But many women also experience symptoms of depression. The risk of depression doubles or even quadruples during the menopausal transition, which has researchers looking for ways to address — or even prevent — the problem. One study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that hormone therapy may help ward off symptoms of peri- and postmenopausal depression in some women. Researchers found that perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women who were treated with hormones were less likely to experience symptoms of depression than women in the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Menopause Source Type: blogs

Inducing labor at full term: What makes sense?
For generations, midwives and doctors have looked for ways to imitate human physiology and nudge women’s bodies into giving birth. Synthetic hormones can be used to start and speed up labor. Soft balloons and seaweed sticks placed alongside the cervix can shape a pathway through the birth canal. Self-stimulation can spontaneously spark natural labor transmitters. But the start of labor remains a complex and mysterious process. And part of this mystery is figuring out which women to induce, when to induce labor, and how. Now, a landmark study known as ARRIVE has brought a bit of clarity. What does the study tell us ab...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Toni Golen, MD Tags: Children's Health Family Planning and Pregnancy Health trends Women's Health Source Type: blogs

The introvert ’s guide to social engagement
Given the choice of interacting with people or watching the new episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot on PBS, well, let’s just say I think David Suchet is better company. If you are an introvert like me, you relish your time alone. But we should also understand the dilemma we face when it comes to long-term health. Research continues to show that regular interactions can lower your risk for heart disease, depression, and early death. But what if being social is not who you are? An introvert is someone who enjoys solitude and focuses more on internal thoughts and feelings. Unlike extroverts, who gain energy from ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Behavioral Health Source Type: blogs

Is hand sanitizer better at preventing the flu than soap and water?
Frequent use of hand sanitizer, instead of soap and water, may lead to fewer respiratory infections, fewer sick days, and less antibiotic use — at least if you’re a toddler. A Spanish study enrolled 911 children who attended day care, from newborns up to three-year-olds, and randomly assigned them to one of three groups. In the control group, parents and caregivers continued usual hand care for the toddlers. In the two intervention groups, children were assigned to either labor-intensive hand sanitizer use or soap and water handwashing. Parents and caregivers were instructed to either apply hand sanitizer or wa...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Parenting Prevention Source Type: blogs

Behavioral weight loss programs are effective — but where to find them?
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is a team of volunteer experts from various primary care medicine and nursing fields. They identify big medical problems, review the research, and translate it into action plans (called practice recommendations) for doctors like me. Just this fall, they tackled obesity, with the goal of identifying effective ways we in primary care can help people to lose weight. And it’s not about aesthetics. This is about disease prevention, especially diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, which are particularly associated with obesity. They were NOT looking at surgeries or...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

AFM: The scary polio-like illness
It is a scary illness, not just for parents but for doctors, too: Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) causes sudden weakness and loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs and can go on to cause even more serious problems. It’s not just the symptoms that are scary. It’s also scary because we don’t know what causes it. Although the symptoms are similar to polio, patients with AFM have tested negative for polio. At one point it was thought that it was caused by another enterovirus, but that didn’t end up being the explanation. It may be another virus, or it may be some sort of toxin, or something else entirely...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Neurological conditions Parenting Source Type: blogs

Personal sound amplification products: For some, an affordable alternative to hearing aids
Growing up I had to wear glasses. Back then it was considered socially unacceptable, but necessary to be able to see. Sixty years later, everyone wears glasses and they are a fashion statement. Now as an aging adult, I need to wear hearing aids. This was and still is in many age groups considered socially unacceptable — a sign of being old and maybe a little senile. But it appears that hearing aids are in the process of a similar transformation. A pared down, more affordable category of products — personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) — may lead to greater use of hearing enhancers at a younger age...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David M. Vernick, MD Tags: Ear, nose, and throat Health Hearing Loss Source Type: blogs

Medical scribes let the doctor focus on you
It’s a gorgeous weekend and you are playing a game of basketball with friends. You take a jump shot, scoring two points, but twist your right ankle on landing. You feel immediate pain and stop playing. After resting for an hour, you notice increased swelling and are having difficulty walking, so you go to the nearby urgent care center. The physician comes to see you, introduces herself, then introduces the medical scribe, who moves to the corner of the room in front of the computer. As the doctor starts asking you questions, the scribe begins typing. Scribes are becoming increasingly common in doctor’s offices....
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Adam Landman, MD, MS, MIS, MHS Tags: Health Health care Source Type: blogs

Mindfulness apps: How well do they work?
You’ve heard of mindfulness, but what is it, really? How is it different from meditation? Is mindfulness really helpful? Is it hokey? And can you learn it? Do you need to go to a week-long camp or a psychotherapist or a guru? The answer could be on your smartphone. What is mindfulness? There’s no specific definition of mindfulness or meditation, although most writers see mindfulness as one form of meditation, which includes many other activities such as visualization and contemplation. Mindfulness involves focusing completely on what’s going on inside you and outside you — being an observer without ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Cartreine, PhD Tags: Health Mind body medicine Stress Source Type: blogs

No more counting sheep: Proven behaviors to help you sleep
As humans, we spend about one-third of our lives asleep. Though science has taught us about the human brain’s exquisite control of our daily sleep and wake patterns, tens of millions of Americans still don’t get the sleep they need. Nearly 20% of American adults report using a sleep medication to help them sleep, despite known side effects and information about how well they really work. Some people turn to alcohol for relief. And many have tried everything without relief. Whether your problem is experiencing lack of quality sleep, feeling sleepy during the day, or not being able to get the seven to nine hours ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Suzanne Bertisch, MD, MPH Tags: Sleep Stress Yoga Source Type: blogs

Coffee may help your skin stay healthy
Here’s a medical news story that combines a common habit (drinking coffee) with a common skin condition (rosacea) — and it even has a happy ending. What is rosacea? Rosacea is probably something you’ve seen plenty of times and didn’t know what it was — or perhaps you have it yourself. It’s that pink or red discoloration on the cheeks some people have, especially fair-haired women. Sometimes there are small bumps that may look a bit like acne. If you look closely (after asking nicely for permission, of course), you’ll see tiny blood vessels just under the surface of the skin. In mor...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Helping a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder
If your child has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you know that this condition affects not only your child but also your entire family. The guidance that follows can help parents gain a better understanding of OCD, learn helpful strategies to support their children, and ease distress all around. What is obsessive-compulsive disorder? OCD typically includes uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions or rituals) that a child feels an urgent need to repeat again and again. For example, your child may repeat a grooming routine until he feels “just right.” A child may engage in c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 1, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Where people die
Truer words were never spoken: we all have to die sometime. But here’s something you may have thought less about: we all have to die somewhere. And most people don’t want it to be in a hospital. Despite this, about one-third of deaths in this country occur in hospitals. The good news is, that this seems to be changing. Where people die is changing Although more than 700,000 people die in hospitals each year in the US, the trend is toward fewer in-hospital deaths. According to the CDC, the number of people dying in the hospital dropped from 776,000 to 715,000 (an 8% drop), even as hospital admissions increased f...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 31, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: End of life Health Source Type: blogs

What parents need to know — and do — about e-cigarettes
Here’s why parents need to know about e-cigarettes. First, many more teens are using them. In 2017, 3% of middle school students and 12% of high school students reported using them, and while that may not sound like a lot, since 2011 use has gone up about 500% in middle school and 800% among high school students. And, e-cigarettes can be dangerous. How e-cigarettes work E-cigarettes are basically delivery devices for nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco. The hope of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is that they might possibly decrease smoking — which would be great, as smoking is the leading p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 30, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Investigators unveil metastatic prostate cancer ’s genomic landscape
Localized prostate cancer that is diagnosed before it has a chance to spread typically responds well to surgery or radiation. But when a tumor metastasizes and sends malignant cells elsewhere in the body, the prognosis worsens. Better treatments for men with metastatic prostate cancer are urgently needed. In 2018, scientists advanced toward that goal by sequencing the entire metastatic cancer genome. The newly revealed genomic landscape includes not just the active genes that make proteins, but also the vast stretches of DNA in between them that can also be functionally significant. Most of the genomic alterations were str...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Living With Prostate Cancer Prostate Knowledge HPK Source Type: blogs

Do I need orthotics? What kind?
Many people come to my office complaining of foot pain from conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, a pinched nerve (neuroma), or heel pain (plantar fasciitis). I perform a thorough evaluation and examination, and together we review the origin, mechanics, and treatment plan for the specific problem or issue. The patient usually asks if they need an orthotic and, if so, which type would be best. I recommend a foot orthotic if muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones are not in an optimal functional position and are causing pain, discomfort, and fatigue. Foot orthotics can be made from different materials, and may be ri...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James P. Ioli, DPM Tags: Foot Care Health Source Type: blogs

Alcohol and headaches
Alcohol is embedded in our society, and it is difficult to be in a public space without seeing a reference to alcohol or being offered a drink. Alcohol is broken down in the liver by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. People with a variant in this enzyme have issues with metabolizing alcohol and can develop total body flushing or reddening of the skin. Alcohol consumption has been associated with pregnancy defects, liver disease, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, cancer, addiction issues, and physical injury (trauma to self/others with acute intoxication). The health benefits of alcoh...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS Tags: Alcohol Headache Health Source Type: blogs

Q & A with Dr. Daniel Rukstalis on prostatic urethral lift for enlarged prostates
A new procedure that relieves symptoms without causing sexual side effects As men get older, their prostates often get bigger and block the flow of urine out of the bladder. This condition, which is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, causes bothersome symptoms. Since men can’t fully empty their bladders, they experience sudden and frequent urges to urinate. Treatments can relieve these symptoms, but not without troubling side effects: pharmaceutical BPH treatments cause dizziness, fatigue, and retrograde ejaculation, meaning that semen gets diverted to the bladder during orgasm instead of being ejected from the bod...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 25, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: BPH Prostate Knowledge Q & A HPK Source Type: blogs

Love those legumes!
“Legumes” sounds like such a fancy word.  Let’s clarify that we’re talking about beans, folks. Beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, it’s all good… and good for you.  Legumes are amazingly nutritious, high in protein and fiber, low in fat, and low in glycemic load. Legumes for heart health Scientific studies have definitively linked a diet high in legumes with a lower risk of developing obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or strokes. As a matter of fact, eating legumes every day can effectively treat these diseases in people who already have the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 25, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Food as medicine Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

10 behaviors for healthy weight loss
Losing weight is challenging, and it seems everyone has an opinion on the best way to do it. The bottom line is “one size does not fit all” when it comes to weight loss. Basic differences such as age, sex, body type, underlying medical issues, physical activity, genetics, past experiences with dieting, and even food preferences can influence a person’s ability to lose weight and keep it off. About half of American adults surveyed between 2013 and 2016 reported trying to lose weight at some point during the prior 12 months. And yet nearly 70% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. Excess w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 24, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Source Type: blogs

Intensive CBT: How fast can I get better?
A highly effective psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on how our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes can affect our feelings and behavior. Traditional CBT treatment usually requires weekly 30- to 60-minute sessions over 12 to 20 weeks. A faster option now emerging is intensive CBT (I-CBT), which employs much longer sessions concentrated into a month, week, or weekend — or sometimes a single eight-hour session. CBT helps people learn tools to reframe different types of thinking, such as black-and-white thinking (I can’t do anything right) and emotional reasoning (I feel you dislike me, ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Soo Jeong Youn, PhD Tags: Adolescent health Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

How to have a safe Halloween
Halloween is a magical day for children. They get to dress up, there are festivities at school — and, of course, they get candy. Here are some simple tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep Halloween magical by keeping children safe. Safe Halloween costumes As you and your child choose a costume, keep this advice in mind: Make sure the costume fits. If it’s too big, or too small, it can make it hard to walk and move around safely. Make sure that any masks, wigs, hats, or other costume parts don’t block your child’s vision — instead of a mask, you might want to consider face paint...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 22, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Safety Source Type: blogs

A new option for immunotherapy in metastatic prostate cancer
Dividing cells face daunting challenges when replicating the billions of letters of DNA in their genomes. For instance, DNA letters in new cells can get mixed up, and then the affected genes don’t function correctly. To fix that problem, healthy cells can deploy so-called mismatch repair (MMR) genes that put scrambled DNA letters back in the correct order. But when those genes are themselves defective, then this repair system breaks down. And as a result, cells develop a progressive condition called microsatellite instability that leaves them vulnerable to cancer. Those sorts of defects are shared by many different t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Dark patches on the face may be melasma
You may have heard melasma referred to as “the mask of pregnancy,” because it is sometimes triggered by an increase in hormones in pregnant women. But while the condition may be common among pregnant women, you don’t have to be pregnant to experience melasma. “It’s not only associated with pregnancy, but can affect women at all stages of life,” says Dr. Shadi Kourosh, director of the Pigmentary Disorder and Multi-Ethnic Skin Clinic at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. And it may last for many years. “Women who develop melasma in their teens or 20s or 30s may see it...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Pregnancy Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Q & A with Dr. Daniel Rukstalis on prostatic urethral lift for enlarged prostates
A new procedure that relieves symptoms without causing sexual side effects As men get older, their prostates often get bigger and block the flow of urine out of the bladder. This condition, which is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, causes bothersome symptoms. Since men can’t fully empty their bladders, they experience sudden and frequent urges to urinate. Treatments can relieve these symptoms, but not without troubling side effects: pharmaceutical BPH treatments cause dizziness, fatigue, and retrograde ejaculation, meaning that semen gets diverted to the bladder during orgasm instead of being ejected from the bod...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: BPH Prostate Knowledge Q & A HPK Source Type: blogs

What is keto flu?
Many people have decided to try the ketogenic diet for weight loss. The most recent evidence shows that reducing your carbohydrate intake to a minimum may help you shed a few pounds, at least in the first few weeks to months. However, we don’t really know whether, over the long term, achieving and maintaining ketosis is better for weight loss than other diets. Almost any intervention can cause undesirable consequences, and the ketogenic diet is no different. One of the most well-publicized complications of ketosis is something called “keto flu.” What is keto flu? The so-called keto flu is a group of sympt...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Source Type: blogs

Self-care for the caregiver
We describe yoga breathing, poses, and meditation techniques in The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga. Mindfulness meditation and deep relaxation techniques can reduce stress. Guided audio meditations are available online: UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center smartphone apps like Headspace, Meditation Oasis, or Insight Timer. 4.   Make eating well and getting quality sleep priorities. It’s easy to forget about your own meals and needs when trying to help others. Maintaining adequate sleep and nutrition are key to preventing caregiver burnout. Build a daily 10-minute nighttime routine to achieve m...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marlynn Wei, MD, JD Tags: Caregiving Health Source Type: blogs

A soaring maternal mortality rate: What does it mean for you?
Update: A new guideline from the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to help reduce steadily rising rates of caesarean sections around the globe. While crucial at times for medical reasons, Cesarean births are associated with short-term and long-risks health risks for women and babies that may extend for years. In June 2018, Serena Williams told Vanity Fair about her journey to motherhood, including the story of how she nearly died a few days after giving birth. In September, Beyoncé punctuated her Vogue cover with the story of how she developed a life-threatening pregnancy condition called pre...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Neel Shah, MD, MPP, FACOG Tags: Health Health trends Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

The real link between breastfeeding and preventing obesity
While we know that breastfeeding has many health benefits for mothers and babies, the studies have been a bit fuzzy when it comes to the link between breastfeeding and preventing obesity in children. Some studies show a clear link, but in others that link is less clear. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics may help explain the fuzziness. It showed that what really helped prevent obesity was getting breast milk directly from the breast. That’s not to say that drinking expressed breast milk from a bottle isn’t healthy. After all, it’s the food that was explicitly designed for infants — and ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Family Planning and Pregnancy Health trends Parenting Source Type: blogs

Trauma-informed care: What it is, and why it ’s important
Update Writing in the October 10, 2018 New England Journal of Medicine, Eve Rittenberg, MD, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and practicing physician at Brigham and Women’s Fish Center for Women’s Health, reflects on the impact the Kavanaugh hearing and #MeToo movement have had on patients who have experienced sexual violence. Important principles of trauma-informed care—including ways to ask permission, offer control, and find support—described in her article and in Monique Tello’s post below can make a real difference to many women and health care professionals alike. ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Behavioral Health Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

More water, fewer UTIs?
This study sought to provide direct evidence of the benefits of drinking extra fluids. What did the study tell us? The study participants were 140 premenopausal women who experienced three or more episodes of cystitis in one year and reported that they drank less than 1.5 liters of fluids daily, which is about 6 1/3 cups. The average amount participants drank daily was a bit over a liter (1.1 liters, or about 4 1/2 cups). The women were randomized to one of two groups. Every day, one group drank their usual amount of fluids plus an additional 1.5 liters of water. The control group drank just their usual amount of fluids. T...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Huma Farid, MD Tags: Health Kidney and urinary tract Prevention Sex Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Is Coca-Cola really putting pot in its beverages?
A flurry of recent news reports would make you think so — here are a few examples: Coke plans to brew weed drink Coca-Cola In Talks To Make Marijuana-Infused Drink Coca-Cola eyes cannabis market The truth turns out to be a bit less dramatic. Here’s how the company’s statement put it: “We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis. Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world…. No decisions have been made at this time.” A few clarifications are in order here: &...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Marijuana Source Type: blogs

How to feel better about yourself if you are depressed
Today is National Depression Screening Day. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you should know that there are effective treatments and help is available. When you are depressed, your self-esteem wanes and you may start to dislike yourself. People with depression often think of themselves as “worthless, incapable of any achievement, and morally despicable.” Why do people who are depressed have this negative self-appraisal? And what could be happening in their brains? The study: In 2017, researcher and psychiatrist Christopher Davey and his colleagues compared the brain blood flow of 86 unmedicated d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Srini Pillay, MD Tags: Mental Health Screening Source Type: blogs

Navigating back pain treatments: Can a physiatrist help?
If self-care steps for back pain such as gentle activity, local heat, or massage don’t ease discomfort within a few weeks to a month, or if you struggle with chronic low back pain, a physiatrist can help you navigate the dizzying number of treatment options. These range from conservative therapies (such as medicines, physical therapy, and chiropractic care) to more invasive options (such as spine injections and spinal surgery). What is a physiatrist? Physiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. We focus on holistic, nonsurgical care aimed at improving function for people wh...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 10, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Edward N. Wei, MD Tags: Back Pain Bones and joints Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Concussion care for children and adolescents: New recommendations
There has been lots of attention on concussions in youth, especially from sports, over the past few years. It’s good that we are paying more attention to concussions. As the stories of prior National Football League players show us, concussions can lead to lifelong problems. The problem for doctors, parents, and coaches has been that while we want to do the right thing when a child gets a concussion, we haven’t known what that right thing is. So it’s great news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reviewed all the research and made recommendations to help guide us as we care for c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Concussions Parenting Source Type: blogs

Does addiction last a lifetime?
I am now 11 years into recovery from my battle with opiate addiction, and I have always been fascinated with two related questions: is there truly such a thing as an “addictive personality,” and do people substitute addictions? The myth of the addictive personality The recently deceased writer and television personality Anthony Bourdain was criticized by some for recreationally using alcohol and cannabis, in what was seemingly a very controlled and responsible manner, decades after he quit heroin and cocaine. Was this a valid criticism? Can a person who was addicted to drugs or alcohol in their teens safely hav...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Alcohol Medical Research Source Type: blogs

Healthy, wholesome easy lunches
Just the idea of packing a lunch elicits a stress response in so many of us. Maybe we’re packing lunch for our kids, maybe it’s for us, but the pressure is on to create a simple yet satisfying, healthy yet hearty, easily transportable meal. This seemingly impossible task is daunting to many people. So much easier to rely on the school cafeteria, lunch trucks, and takeout, right? Wrong! Let us consider the short- and long-term effects of poor choices at lunchtime. Yes, the school cafeteria may offer some healthy-ish options. I can count on my kids not to choose any of them. Likewise our workplace food trucks and...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Food as medicine Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Brain science to improve your relationships
On the surface, your own brain may be your furthest consideration when you are trying to improve your relationships. Yet it is the very place that processes where you perceive, understand, remember, evaluate, desire, and respond to people. The somewhat bizarre fact of life is that the people who are in our lives are not simply who they actually are. They are some interesting mix of who they are and what we make of them in our brains. If we understand the ways in which relationships impact our brains, we can likely change our brains to alter the ways in which we interact with others too. Transference Transference is a psych...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 4, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Srini Pillay, MD Tags: Health Mental Health Stress Workplace health Source Type: blogs

Could household disinfectants be making our children fat?
Household disinfectants seem like such a good idea, especially when you have children — after all, children make messes, and killing germs helps keep children healthy, right? Not always, it turns out. Sometimes germs actually keep us healthy and keep us at a healthy weight. More and more, we are learning that not all bacteria are bad. In fact, the bacteria that live naturally in and on our bodies, especially in our digestive tracts, are crucial for health. When we mess with those bacteria, it increases the risk of many problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel dise...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

A soaring maternal mortality rate: What does it mean for you?
In June 2018, Serena Williams told Vanity Fair about her journey to motherhood, including the story of how she nearly died a few days after giving birth. In September, Beyoncé punctuated her Vogue cover with the story of how she developed a life-threatening pregnancy condition called preeclampsia, which can lead to seizures and stroke. Throughout the summer, headlines like “Dying to Deliver” and “Deadly Deliveries” and “Maternal Mortality: An American Crisis” popped up on newsfeeds and streamed on screens across America. As a professor who studies safety in pregnancy, I ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Neel Shah, MD, MPP, FACOG Tags: Health Health trends Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Conflict of interest in medicine
Recent news reports described an “ethical lapse” by a prominent New York City cancer specialist. In research published in prominent medical journals, he failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments he had received from drug and healthcare companies that were related to his research. Why is this such a big deal? Disclosing any potential conflict of interest is considered essential for the integrity of medical research. The thinking is that other researchers, doctors, patients, regulators, investors — everyone! — has a right to know if the researcher might be biased, and that measures have been ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 1, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Drip bar: Should you get an IV on demand?
For many people receiving care in a hospital or emergency room, one of the most common occurrences (and biggest fears) is getting an IV, the intravenous catheter that allows fluids and medications to flow into a vein in your arm or hand. A trained health professional puts in an IV by sticking a needle that’s inside a thin tube (catheter) through the skin into a vein. Once inside the vein, the needle is removed. The catheter is left in the vein and taped down to keep it from moving or falling out. While IV lines are typically painless, the initial needle stick can be quite painful, especially for those who are a &ldqu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 28, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Health trends Source Type: blogs

Parents: Don ’t use a baby walker
In Canada, the sale of baby walkers is banned. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) would like the same to be true in the US. Why? Because baby walkers are dangerous. According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, between 1990 and 2014, more than 230,000 children less than 15 months of age were treated in US emergency departments for injuries related to walkers. The majority of injuries happen when children fall down stairs in a walker, usually injuring their head or neck, sometimes seriously. But it’s not just stairs that can be a problem. Children in walkers can get their fingers caught, pull things down on th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it?
Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources. Mediterranean and vegetarian diets What is the evidence that plant-based eating patterns are healthy? Much nutrition research has examined plant-based eating patterns such as the Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet. The Mediterranean diet has a foundation of plant-based...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, part 2
Well, it seems as though not even a week can go by without more data on aspirin! I recently reviewed the ARRIVE trial and the implications for primary prevention — that is, trying to prevent heart attacks and strokes in otherwise healthy people. Since then, yet another large clinical trial — the ASPREE study — has come out questioning the use of aspirin in primary prevention. Three articles pertaining to this trial were published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, which is an unusual degree of coverage for one trial and highlights its immediate relevance to clinical practice. Aspirin stil...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 25, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Deepak Bhatt, MD, MPH Tags: Heart Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

Leaving time for last words
I was called to your room in the middle of an overnight shift. There you were, breathing quickly, neck veins bulging and oxygen levels hovering despite the mask on your face. I placed my stethoscope on your back and listened to the cacophony of air struggling to make its way through your worsening pneumonia. “We’re going to place a tube down your throat to help you breathe,” I told you. Your eyes were pleading, scared. “We’ll put you to sleep. It’ll help you breathe more comfortably. Okay?” You nodded. You had already told the doctors who cared for you during the day that if your b...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 24, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Daniela J. Lamas, MD Tags: Caregiving End of life Health Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

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