Is a steady diet of social media unhealthy?
Asking if social media makes you lonely and depressed is a little like asking if eating makes you fat. The answer is yes, absolutely, but not always, not in everyone, and not forever. Social media use is fine in moderation. But as with any diet that tilts heavily toward foods that lack nutritional value, an excessive intake of social media may be bad for your health. When it comes to social media, think snack-sized portions The latest research suggests that limiting social media use to 30 minutes a day “may lead to significant improvement in well-being,” according to a widely publicized University of Pennsylvan...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH Tags: Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Alcohol use disorder: When is drinking a problem?
Over the past few months, a conversation about alcohol use has been center stage in the national news. Stories about underage drinking, blacking out, and harmful behavior associated with alcohol use are quite common in many families around the world. The rise of the opioid epidemic in the US has rightly caught our attention, but overshadowed a much more common problem. In the United States, from 2006 to 2010 alcohol-associated deaths accounted for 88,000 deaths annually, or almost 10% of all US deaths. While many people are becoming aware that medication assisted therapy can help treat opioid use disorder, very few know th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Benefits of a healthy diet — with or without weight loss
This study, called OMNI Heart (Optimal Macronutrient Intake to Prevent Heart Disease) examined 164 overweight and obese adults with prehypertension or Stage 1 hypertension, and replaced some of the carbohydrates in the DASH diet with either healthy protein (from fish, nuts, beans, and legumes) or unsaturated fats (from olive oil, nuts, avocado, and nut butters). Again calories were kept neutral to avoid weight gain or loss. Results showed that substituting healthy protein or healthy fats for some of the carbohydrate lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides even further than the DASH diet alone. Putt...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Heart failure and salt: The great debate
“Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all.” — Nelson Mandela Salt: without it, food can seem tasteless. It is the reason sea water burns our eyes and skin. Some people enjoy salt water baths. Is it good for us? Is it not? Do we really know? In modern medicine, we tend to have a generally negative feeling about sodium, the element found in salt. Excessive sodium intake is linked to water retention, and it is also a risk factor for high blood pressure. Both excessive sodium intake and high blood pressure are major risk factors for developing heart failure, and for causing complications in those wit...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Januzzi, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Seasons of grief
While speaking as a panelist on substance use disorder (SUD), I felt it necessary to remind the audience that addiction is a family disease. While family members may not themselves be tethered to use of a substance, we all share in the anger, guilt, despair, and all too often grief that ripple back and forth in a family’s encounter with SUD. I learned early on, “Addiction isn’t a spectator sport, eventually the whole family gets to play.” What may be harder for some to understand is that the “sport” gets played for a lifetime, even by generations to come. I am reminded of a line near the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Bill Williams Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

The new exercise guidelines: Any changes for you?
It’s likely you already know that regular exercise helps prevent chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart problems, while improving your overall health, mood, and quality of life. It can sharpen mental function, boost concentration, and help you sleep. And the new exercise and physical activity guidelines issued by the federal government’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion show that the dose required to gain these benefits is not hard to achieve. The new guidelines are better tailored for age and ability, too. What should your exercise goals be? The amount of exercise and mix of activities re...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lauren Elson, MD Tags: Adolescent health Exercise and Fitness Men's Health Pregnancy Women's Health Yoga Source Type: blogs

Intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injury: An “invisible” public health epidemic
While studying brain injuries in the mid-1990s, I began volunteering in a domestic violence shelter. I noticed that the abuse and problems many women reported were consistent with possibly experiencing concussions. Women reported many acts of violence that could cause trauma to the brain, as well as many post-concussive symptoms. Shockingly, my search for literature on this topic yielded zero results. When I decided to focus my graduate work on this topic, I was even more shocked by what I learned from women who had experienced intimate partner violence (IPV). Of the 99 women I interviewed, 75% reported at least one trauma...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Eve Valera, PhD Tags: Concussions Neurological conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Smell disorders: When your sense of smell goes astray
We spend our days interacting with the world around us through our senses of sight, sound, and touch. But anyone who has developed complete nasal obstruction from an infection or severe allergies has experienced what it’s like to be without one of our most basic senses: our sense of smell. The many functions of smell In other animals, the sense of smell is absolutely crucial for survival, reproduction, and rearing of young. Although humans can survive without smell, research has shown that losing the sense of smell negatively impacts quality of life, even driving some people toward clinical depression. Just as o...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Eric Holbrook, MD Tags: Allergies Ear, nose, and throat Health Source Type: blogs

Holiday toys for kids: “Back to basics” is best
It’s the holiday season, time for buying toys for the children in our lives. As we do, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages us to think about buying toys that can actually help children as they grow and develop. Play is the work of children. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun; of course play should be fun. But play is at its best when it encourages learning and development, and when it encourages interaction with other people. So many gifts these days are full of bells and whistles and cool electronic gadgets, but don’t really help children (and are often quickly discarded). The AAP th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Calm for the holidays
Are you heading home for the holidays, hosting relatives, or throwing parties? A strong dose of calm can help you enjoy yourself more and stress less. Here are a few ways to take holiday stress down a notch and invoke your calmest self. Find your calm Breathe deep: When your emotions run high, breathing speeds up, too. Deliberately slowing your breathing relaxes tense muscles, bringing shoulders down from ears, calms roiling emotions, and helps disarm the hormonal cascade within the body that feeds anxiety. Try this: close your eyes and breathe in deeply through your nose while counting upward. Hold for a few seconds....
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 10, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Francesca Coltrera Tags: Health Mental Health Relationships Stress Source Type: blogs

Gut feelings: How food affects your mood
The human microbiome, or gut environment, is a community of different bacteria that has co-evolved with humans to be beneficial to both a person and the bacteria. Researchers agree that a person’s unique microbiome is created within the first 1,000 days of life, but there are things you can do to alter your gut environment throughout your life. Ultra-processed foods and gut health What we eat, especially foods that contain chemical additives and ultra-processed foods, affects our gut environment and increases our risk of diseases. Ultra-processed foods contain substances extracted from food (such as sugar and starch)...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Uma Naidoo, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Digestive Disorders Food as medicine Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Creating recovery-friendly workplaces
People who work in manual labor have higher rates of injury and overdose Our country’s ongoing opioid crisis has many faces, from teenagers on Cape Cod to middle-aged parents in West Virginia. A recent report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides another demographic affected by opioids: people who work in the trade industries, namely construction. The report broke down overdose deaths by industry, and construction workers were involved in almost a quarter of overdose deaths recorded in the state over five years. Farming, forestry, and hunting, along with fishing, are the next most dangerous indu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD Tags: Addiction Source Type: blogs

Coping with infertility during the holidays: Darkness and light
In my experience, most people dealing with infertility would say that their longing for a child brings sadness year-round. Still, there are times and seasons when the pain intensifies. This may be in spring or early summer when the world is in bloom, winter coats are off and pregnant bellies are out, when greeting card companies and florists ambush airwaves to promote Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Similarly, the winter holidays present an ever-lengthening stretch during which many women and men who are struggling with infertility feel pummeled. Bookended by Thanksgiving and New Year’s, this has become a ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Health Infertility Source Type: blogs

Safe and effective use of insulin requires proper storage
Insulin is a naturally occurring, glucose-lowering hormone used by many people with diabetes to control their blood sugar. In people with type 1 diabetes, supplemental insulin makes up for the insulin that is not produced by the body. People with type 2 diabetes may need to take insulin if they cannot maintain adequate blood sugar control with other medications. Insulin is manufactured to be identical to the insulin produced by the human pancreas. These synthetic insulins can work from a few hours (rapid-acting insulin) to a whole day (long-acting insulin). They are typically injected via a needle or pen. Guidelines for pr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 4, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elena Toschi, MD Tags: Diabetes Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

Navigating tricky relationships during the holidays
Are you counting down the days until you find yourself face-to-face with certain family members or friends who know exactly where your buttons lie and push them, repeatedly? While we all long for an abundance of good cheer, an overflow of ready affection, and easy conversations, handling challenging relationships during the holidays can trip up even the best-intentioned. So, how to navigate the gatherings ahead? Simple tips to help you navigate Here are some simple tips to keep in mind: Prepare. Sometimes we can avoid what we fear by anticipating and accepting what is. Why would Aunt Bertha be any different this year ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Melissa Brodrick, MEd Tags: Health Mental Health Relationships Stress Source Type: blogs

Giving babies and toddlers antibiotics can increase the risk of obesity
Antibiotics can be lifesaving, but they can have serious downsides — including increasing the risk of obesity when they are given early in life, according to a recent study. Antibiotics kill bacteria. That can be a very good thing when the bacteria are causing a serious infection. But antibiotics don’t limit themselves to killing infection-causing bacteria; they kill other bacteria in the body, too. And that can be a very bad thing. Our bodies are full of bacteria. These bacteria, part of our microbiome, are important. Along with other micro-organisms in our body, they play a role in how we digest foods, in nor...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 30, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs

Eat more plants, fewer animals
Science has shown us over and over again that the more meat we eat, the higher our risk of diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. Conversely, the more fruits and vegetables we eat, the lower our risk for these diseases, and the lower our body mass index. Why is eating meat bad? High-quality research shows that red meats (like beef, lamb, pork) and processed meats (bacon, sausage, deli meats) are metabolized to toxins that cause damage to our blood vessels and other organs. This toxic process has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. (Want to know more? Read about how these animal proteins harm the body here and here). ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Food as medicine Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Picking your skin? Learn four tips to break the habit
If you can’t stop picking your skin, you may have a very common condition called skin picking disorder (SPD). We all pick at a scab or a bump from time to time, but for those with SPD, it can be nearly impossible to control those urges. Apart from the cosmetic impact of recurrent skin lesions and scarring, SPD can lead to serious infections, shame, depression, and anxiety. You may be feeling alone or embarrassed, but you should know that this condition affects at least five million Americans. A diagnosis of SPD, also known as excoriation disorder, is made when there are repeated attempts to stop picking, and the skin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 28, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lisa Zakhary, MD, PhD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Source Type: blogs

Can a low-carbohydrate diet help keep weight off?
For your entire life you have been bombarded with information about which diet is the best to help you lose weight. Like many other people, you might have tried one or even a dozen diets, but it took a bit of trial and error for you to find which diet worked for you. Now, you are on to the hard part. You have finally lost the weight, but how do you keep it off? That is the million dollar question, right? In a new study in BMJ, researchers sought to determine if a low-carbohydrate diet might help mitigate the dreaded weight regain that occurs when a person loses weight. We know that when a person loses weight their energy e...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FACP, FTOS  Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Smoking tied to more aggressive prostate cancer
If you’re a smoker looking for another reason to quit, consider this: in addition to raising your risk of heart and lung disease, as well as cancers of the bladder and kidney, smoking could boost the odds that you will develop aggressive prostate cancer that metastasizes, or spreads through your body. That’s according to research published by an Austrian team in 2018. The evidence connecting tobacco use with prostate cancer (which tends to grow relatively slowly) isn’t as strong as it is for other smoking-related diseases. Researchers first detected the link only after pooling data from 51 studies that en...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Prostate Knowledge Risks and Prevention HPK Source Type: blogs

The new cholesterol guidelines: What you need to know
The new cholesterol guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association are out! These guidelines — last updated in 2013 — have been highly anticipated by the cardiology and broader medical community. They have been approved by a variety of additional professional societies, including the American Diabetes Association. Thus, the majority of physicians are very likely to follow them. So, what exactly is new and what do you need to know? It starts with a healthy lifestyle, with statins for those who need them A healthy diet and regular physical activity are recommended for all age gr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Deepak Bhatt, MD, MPH Tags: Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

What ’s good for the heart is good for the mind
Right now the world is experiencing an epidemic that is projected to get much, much worse. It’s an epidemic of dementia, affecting 40 million people — and millions more of their caregivers — staggering numbers that will likely triple by 2050. Dementia is a progressive deterioration of brain functioning associated with aging. While there are different causes, the most common — Alzheimer’s and vascular dementias — are now thought to be closely related. How is heart health related to cognitive health? We have long known that the diseases and conditions that clog the arteries of the heart al...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Food as medicine Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Memory Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

Healthy eating through the holidays
Holiday time is here again! So are the joys and challenges of holiday eating. The big challenge is to have fun at special occasions without jeopardizing some of the healthy practices you have worked on throughout the year. Here are some tips to help you survive the holiday season. Do not arrive hungry to the party! Skipping meals before a holiday party in an effort to save calories for the big party will only make you overeat. Eat a light meal or snack before arriving to the party. A snack or meal that is high in fiber and contains lean protein is ideal because it can help control your appetite and help you avoid overeatin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

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