Keeping carbon monoxide out of your home
Every year in the US, about 10,000 persons are treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, and roughly 400 die from unintentional exposure. This mostly occurs in our cold winter months, like now… Why winter? Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas normally found in the atmosphere at low levels. Many things contribute to the level of CO in the air, both outdoors (like pollution) and indoors (like tobacco smoke). High levels can also be produced from the burning of wood, gas, and other fuels. Poor heating systems or those with improper ventilation can lead to dangerous levels of CO in the air. Thi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 22, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Health Safety Source Type: blogs

Revisiting options for improving results of breast reconstruction
This study is the first of its kind to provide patient-reported outcomes about fat grafting, and reflects a growing trend of incorporating patient-reported outcomes into clinical trials. Gaining a better understanding of outcomes from the patients’ perspective helps researchers and clinicians to design and deliver care that truly meets the personal preferences and treatment priorities of women diagnosed with breast cancer. I’d like to thank my colleague Dr. Dhruv Singhal, a plastic surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, for his contributions to this post.  The post Revisiting options for imp...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ted A. James, MD Tags: Breast Cancer Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Access to safe, affordable birth control is a maternal health issue
I am a physician. As a high-risk obstetrician (maternal-fetal medicine specialist) I pride myself on caring for women who are likely to become (or who are already) so ill that many others view caring for them as a burden. I help women achieve a safe pregnancy when colleagues have advised against pregnancy altogether. Whether it is the patient with such a complex surgical history that her cesarean delivery will include massive blood loss and a hysterectomy, or the patient with a history of liver transplant trying to carry a pregnancy for the fourth time (each unsuccessful as she struggles in and out of graft rejection), or ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Shainker, DO, MS Tags: Family Planning and Pregnancy Health Women's Health birth control Source Type: blogs

False alarm in Hawaii: Preparing for the unthinkable
Early last Saturday morning in Hawaii, cellphones flashed the following warning from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency: “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.” Television and radio broadcast similar messages. For 38 minutes, until this warning was retracted, the residents of Hawaii and beyond were put into a state of utter panic and despair, concerned about a potential nuclear attack from North Korea. These worries are not new After the end of the Cold War, and after several decades of relative calm, the threat of nuclear war or of a rogue nuclear blast ha...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Emergency Planning Health Source Type: blogs

When to worry about your child ’s sore throat
Follow me on Twitter @DrClaire Sore throats happen all the time in childhood — and most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about. Most of the time, they are simply part of a common cold, don’t cause any problems, and get better without any treatment. Sometimes, though, a sore throat can be a sign of a problem that might need medical treatment. Here are four examples: Strep throat. This infection, caused by a particular kind of streptococcus bacteria, is quite common. Along with a sore throat, children may have a fever, headache, stomachache (sometimes with vomiting), and a fine, pink rash that almost look...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs

Medical marijuana
There are few subjects that can stir up stronger emotions among doctors, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and the public than medical marijuana. Is it safe? Should it be legal? Decriminalized? Has its effectiveness been proven? What conditions is it useful for? Is it addictive? How do we keep it out of the hands of teenagers? Is it really the “wonder drug” that people claim it is? Is medical marijuana just a ploy to legalize marijuana in general? These are just a few of the excellent questions around this subject, questions that I am going to studiously avoid so we can focus on two specific areas: why do...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Drugs and Supplements Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

The ghost in the basement
Follow me on Twitter @BillEduTheater We are fortunate to have a country home in the Catskills where we can escape city life. An eight-year-old neighbor often crosses our meadow or bikes over to stop by for a visit. While I’d like to think I’m the featured attraction, his visits are not just to see me; of much greater interest is our basement with its shelves of toys and games. Particularly appealing to this lad is the sports equipment: hockey sticks, goalie pads, a goal to shoot on, baseball mitts, a batting helmet, a catcher’s mask, soccer balls, and more. Name the sport and it is most likely we have equ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Bill Williams Tags: Addiction Health Source Type: blogs

Rhabdo: A rare but serious complication of … exercise
It’s a new year, the gyms are unusually busy, and many of us started a new physical activity. Several health clubs are offering fun, interactive, and dynamic exercises such as whole-body workouts, functional training, CrossFit, high-intensity interval training, spinning, etc. Some of these classes are incorporating intense workouts, which was a hot topic in exercise physiology in 2017. There is significant enthusiasm around these programs among my friends, family, and patients. Some of these classes have loud music, lights, and trainers whose job is to push you to a new level. Increasing the intensity of a workout ma...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

The flu is here — and so is a new advisory from the CDC
In conclusion… Maybe this year’s flu season will be milder than expected. But I wouldn’t count on it. I’ve had the flu and it’s not pleasant. Do what you can to lessen your risk. It’s worth the effort. The post The flu is here — and so is a new advisory from the CDC appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Source: Harvard Health Blog)
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 10, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

5 common problems that can mimic ADHD
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is very common — according to the most recent statistics, one in 10 children between the ages of 4 and 17 has been diagnosed with this problem. So it’s not surprising that when parents notice that their child has trouble concentrating, is more active or impulsive than other children, and is having trouble in school, they think that their child might have ADHD. But ADHD isn’t the only problem that can cause a child to have trouble with concentration, behavior, or school performance. There are actually lots of problems that ca...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Another option for life-threatening allergic reactions
For some people, many foods, medicines, and bee stings mean life-threatening allergic reactions that require immediate treatment with injectable epinephrine. For many people, January means the start of a new drug deductible to be met. In June 2017 the FDA approved a new form of emergency epinephrine called Symjepi, which may be good news for people who must be prepared in the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction. The seriousness of a severe allergic reaction Severe allergic reactions affect anywhere from 5% to 70% of persons, depending on age and prior exposure. Anaphylactic or “type 1” (immediate hype...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Susan Farrell, MD Tags: Allergies Health Source Type: blogs

Working through workplace stigma: Coming back after an addiction
My first day returning to work after being treated for a severe opiate addiction was one of the most daunting moments of my life. Everyone in the office, from my manager to the administrative assistants, knew that forged prescriptions and criminal charges were the reason I had been let go from my previous job. My mind was spinning. What would my coworkers think of me? Who would want to work alongside an “addict”? Would they ever come to trust me? Did I even deserve to be here? When my life was crashing and burning due to my addiction (detailed in my memoir Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction), a retu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Health Workplace health Source Type: blogs

Is “man flu” really a thing?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling This one got by me. I’d never heard of “man flu” but according to a new study of the topic, the term is “so ubiquitous that it has been included in the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries. Oxford defines it as ‘a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.’” Another reference called it “wimpy man” syndrome. Wow. I’d heard it said (mostly in jest) that if men had to carry and deliver babies, humankind would have long ago gone extinct. But wimpy man syndrome? I j...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 4, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Health Infectious diseases Men's Health Source Type: blogs

Comparing medications to treat opioid use disorder
This study was widely covered in the press, and many of the sound bites and headlines reporting the two treatments to be equally effective were a bit misleading. The advantages and disadvantages of buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv, Probuphine, Sublocade) Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist medication. This medication activates the same receptors in the brain as any opioid, but only partly. Because its effects are long-lasting, it can be taken once a day to relieve cravings, prevent withdrawal, and restore normal functioning in someone with opioid use disorder. Because it is a partial agonist, it has a ceilin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative Tags: Addiction Health Source Type: blogs

Frozen (the cold will bother you …)
Whether you and your family are embracing the pleasures of the winter season with ice skating and snowball fights, or reluctantly venturing outdoors to walk the dog and shovel snow, be aware of the health hazards of this cold snap… like frostbite. Here’s why you don’t want to mess with frostbite Frostbite can occur even after minutes of exposure to sub-freezing temperatures and wind chill. It develops after exposure to severe cold leads to freezing and injury of tissue with destruction of cells. The inflammation that follows frostbite can cause further tissue damage. The more commonly affected areas are ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Health Prevention Safety Skin and Hair Care frostbite Source Type: blogs

3 New Year ’s resolutions all families can (and should) make
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire It’s the beginning of a new calendar year, that time when we resolve to do new and better things. This is such a wonderful idea, because doing new and better things can make us healthier and happier. Resolutions can be particularly good for families to make. Not only is it good to work together on something, it’s a good way to keep everyone accountable. The best resolutions are the ones that are simple. By simple, I don’t necessarily mean easy (if they were easy, we wouldn’t have to resolve to do them). I mean that they are resolutions that you can lean into and work t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Exercise and Fitness Healthy Eating Parenting Source Type: blogs

Returning to an old exercise routine? Here ’ s what you need to know
My ancient workout clothes are folded neatly (and squished) beneath a pile of sweaters on a shelf in my closet. They were cute — from the ‘90s — when I cared very much about how I looked at the gym. Decades later, I skip the gym and instead walk most days and do body weight exercises, all while clad in a sweatshirt and yoga pants. But whenever I see my old gym outfit (blue leotard “overalls” with a cropped tee shirt built in), I wonder if maybe I’d get more from a gym workout. It wouldn’t be hard to jump back in, would it? Just a second It turns out, it’s smarter to ease back...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

Should you ever not listen to your doctor?
Since I got married seven years ago and had two kids, I’ve had to shed parts of my life, like the hockey package, going to the movies, and slow-pitch softball. None were hard sacrifices, but the casualty that hurt the most was giving up my doctor of over 20 years. I met him soon after I got out of college and he was early in his career, and while I never needed him for much, I knew he was on top of everything. Even after my wife and I moved north of Boston, I wanted to believe that I could keep him, that an hour-long drive into town without traffic was possible, because how often did I ever have an emergency? Well, i...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Health Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Preventing overdose deaths is not one-size-fits-all
By now, we all know that the number of opioid-related deaths in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declaring an epidemic in 2011, the death rate has continued to increase every year, with more than 30,000 deaths per year now attributed to opioids. Graphs from the CDC show the geographic distribution of the epidemic and demonstrate that nearly the entire United States is involved. This tragic death toll has culminated in many local, state, and federal government initiatives to fix the problem, including President Trump’s recent declaration that th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Weiner, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Source Type: blogs

To exercise more, get your game on
In this study, participants earned points by meeting daily physical activity goals, progressing through higher levels by keeping up that behavior, and ultimately winning prizes. But games are not just for single players. “Being on a team encourages cooperation, and people egg each other on. And when different teams compete against one another, that adds another layer of incentive. It’s like the difference between playing solitaire versus bridge,” Dr. Kawachi explains. The study, published online Oct. 2, 2017, by JAMA Internal Medicine, relied on practices inspired by behavioral economics. People dislike l...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 21, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Answer these 5 questions to help make your New Year ’s resolutions stick
It’s that time of the year again when we start thinking about the (in)famous New Year’s resolutions. Change can be a frustrating experience for many. So, I decided to investigate what may increase your chances of success. I would like to propose a framework that combines the science of behavior change with the idea that we are able to rewire our brains to improve our health, well-being, and overall quality of life, called neuroplasticity. So, grab a piece of paper to write down the answers to the questions below. 1.  Why do you want to make the change? Make sure you find your true motivation. Try to look b...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Healthy Eating Prevention Source Type: blogs

Racial and ethnic minority communities hit hard by type 2 diabetes: Here ’s what we can do
To read in Spanish As you probably know, type 2 diabetes has become a major health problem in the US and around the world. People with type 2 diabetes cannot effectively use glucose (sugar) from the food they eat to fuel the body. As a result, blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal. Over time this can lead to serious, even deadly, complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. The slow and insidious nature of persistently high blood sugar can also cause problems that interfere with quality of life, including vision changes, nerve pain and infections that are slow to heal. It is estimated t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: A. Enrique Caballero, MD Tags: Diabetes Health Health care disparities Source Type: blogs

Minor ías raciales/étnicas seriamente afectadas por diabetes tipo 2: Esto es lo que podemos hacer
Para leer en inglés Probablemente usted sabe que la diabetes tipo 2 se ha convertido en un problema enorme en el área de salud en los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica (EUA) y en el resto del mundo. Las personas con diabetes tipo 2 no pueden utilizar la glucosa (azúcar) que se obtiene de los alimentos como fuente de energía de forma eficiente. En consecuencia, los niveles de azúcar en la sangre están por encima de lo normal. Con el tiempo, esto puede causar complicaciones serias e incluso fatales como enfermedad cardiovascular, enfermedad de los riñones y enfermedad vasc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: A. Enrique Caballero, MD Tags: Diabetes Health Source Type: blogs

Remembering the “me” in merry: Self-care strategies for this holiday season
The holiday season is filled with hustle and bustle. There’s plenty of excitement from seeing family and friends, but also stress, travel, long lines, planning, preparation — and a range of emotions from positive to negative. For many, the holiday season means planning and taking care of others. However, this leaves little time for taking care of oneself. Below are a few ideas on how to practice self-care during this holiday season. Regularly schedule time to engage in self-care activities. Schedule self-care activities (exercise, meditation, a hobby you enjoy) at the same time each day so they become routine,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 18, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Mind body medicine Stress Source Type: blogs

A more precise approach to fighting cancer
If you are like me, when you get the flu you head straight to the pharmacy and grab the most powerful over-the-counter medicine you can find. But is that really the best approach? After all, your condition, symptoms, and reaction to the virus may be quite different from someone else’s, so why use the same medicine? Instead, you may benefit more from a treatment specifically designed just for you and your ailment. That’s the philosophy behind precision medicine (sometimes referred to as personalized medicine), an approach to cancer prevention and treatment that takes into account a person’s genes, environm...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Cancer Medical Research Source Type: blogs

Navigating the holidays in recovery
The winter holidays are almost universally experienced as a time of joy, and of familial togetherness. For many they are the highlight of the year, a time of relaxation, gift-giving, spiritual renewal, and reflection on a year of skirmishes fought on behalf of one’s family. But for people in recovery from substance use disorders, such as from opiates or alcohol, the holidays can be a time of unique and profound stress. Part of this stress is related to the freely flowing alcohol that can be found at many holiday events, and another aspect is often related to complex interactions with family members who can be “...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 14, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Are you getting the most out of your high-deductible health plan?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Picking a health insurance plan can be maddeningly complicated. It may seem that no matter what you do, you’re picking the wrong plan. Should you go with the one with high monthly premiums that covers just about everything and even pays for medications? Or maybe it’d be best to go with one with lower premiums but that covers fewer expenses. Picking the one that’s best depends on your medical conditions, the medications you take, and, to some degree, your ability to predict future medical expenses. And it only gets more difficult as costs rise and medical care gets more c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Keeping children safe this holiday season
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Holidays are best when they are spent having fun with friends and family — not spent in an emergency room. Yet every year that’s where thousands of people end up, due to holiday-related injuries and illnesses. Here are some tips to help keep your children safe and well this holiday season, from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Holiday decorations They make everything more festive, that’s true, but they can be dangerous. If you buy a live tree, make sure it’s not dried out. Cut a few inches off the bottom, and keep the stand filled with water. If you use an artifici...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Safety Source Type: blogs

Avoiding holiday excess (and what to do if you overdo it)
The holidays are famously a time of celebration, and where there is celebrating, there is usually too much alcohol, too many rich foods, and not enough sleep. Here are some basic tips on not overdoing it — and how to manage when you have. Common sense rules You know the saying “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry”? The reason is pretty obvious. If you’re famished, you may not make the best food choices. Well, the same applies to holiday parties. If you are truly hungry, have something healthy and filling beforehand, like a beautiful salad. Pressed for time? Eat an apple. Already there? Look a...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 11, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Eating Prevention Source Type: blogs

Is there a link between alcohol and skin cancer?
Patients are always elated when you can recommend an enjoyable, health-improving, recreational activity. As a runner, my favorite “prescription” while pregnant was exercise! However, more often than not, pleasurable activities are not what’s best for one’s health. But as a dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer, I am generally the bearer of bad news when I tell patients to never get another tan. This November, alcohol came into the spotlight. The Cancer Prevention Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommended minimizing drinking alcohol, as it is thought to be a “mod...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily S. Ruiz, MD, MPH Tags: Cancer Health Healthy Eating Prevention Source Type: blogs

What to do for stubborn low back pain
A while back, I covered the updated evidence-based treatment guidelines for acute (less than four weeks) and subacute (less than twelve weeks) low back pain. I promised a post on chronic (more than twelve weeks) back pain. Well, as I write this, I am suffering from a recurrence of my own low back pain, which radiates down my right leg at times. This has been literally and figuratively a pain in my rear end, for years. Being a doctor who practices what I preach, I am putting all the advice I dispense to good use. First, look for possible triggers This fall, I had gotten away from my regular core-strengthening routine (night...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 7, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Back Pain Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Can shoveling snow put your heart at risk?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling When it comes to heart disease, there’s lots of advice. There are heart-healthy diets and exercise programs to follow. Of course, if you smoke, you’re urged to stop. For those at highest risk or who already have heart disease, there are medications to take and monitoring of your condition to keep track of. A recent study suggests that for people who are at high risk for heart disease or who already have it, there’s a bit of new advice: don’t shovel snow. Shoveling snow and heart attack According to past estimates, about 100 people — mostly men — die dur...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 6, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

More than half of today ’s children will be obese adults
This study really shows that early obesity is a problem we can’t ignore. An obese 2-year-old is more likely to be obese at 35 than a 19-year-old who is overweight but not obese. I think most people would not have guessed that. What parents can do There are definitely economic factors, and it’s crucial that we as a society make healthy foods and opportunities for exercise affordable and accessible to everyone. But there are things that each and every parent and caregiver can do to help children get to and stay at a healthy weight, such as: Practice “responsive feeding” with infants and children. Lea...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Can an online game really improve blood sugar control for people with diabetes?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling When it comes to serious health problems, you might think a game would be unlikely to help. But a recent study of people with diabetes could change your mind. Researchers publishing in the September 2017 issue of Diabetes Care describe a study in which people with diabetes joined a competitive online game aimed at educating participants about ways to improve blood sugar control. The results were encouraging. How a game led to improved blood sugars In this new research, 456 patients with poorly controlled diabetes were randomly assigned to one of two groups: Group 1 participated in an onl...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 4, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Diabetes Health Source Type: blogs

The Couric-Jolie effect: When celebrities share their medical experiences
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Some called it the Katie Couric effect. Soon after her husband died of colon cancer in 1998, the journalist and television personality had a televised colonoscopy to promote the test. Rates of screening colonoscopies soared for at least a year. Or, call it the Angelina Jolie effect. In 2013, the actress wrote an editorial in the New York Times about the tests she had for genes (called BRCA) linked with breast and ovarian cancer, and how the positive result led her to have a double mastectomy. Soon after, rates of BRCA testing jumped. Whatever you call it, the effect is real. When it comes...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 1, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

The Couric-Jolie effect: The impact of celebrities ’ medical advice
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Some called it the Katie Couric effect. Soon after her husband died of colon cancer in 1998, the journalist and television personality had a televised colonoscopy to promote the test. Rates of screening colonoscopies soared for at least a year. Or, call it the Angelina Jolie effect. In 2013, the actress wrote an editorial in the New York Times about the tests she had for genes (called BRCA) linked with breast and ovarian cancer, and how the positive result led her to have a double mastectomy. Soon after, rates of BRCA testing jumped. Whatever you call it, the effect is real. When it comes...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 1, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Naloxone: An important tool, but not the solution to the opioid crisis
In this study, we aimed to define how many patients who were treated with naloxone by an ambulance crew and initially survived were still alive after one year. Even though these patients are typically just observed in the ED hallway, allowed to sober while the ED staff is busy taking care of other patients with life-threatening emergencies like heart attacks, trauma, and strokes, our team hypothesized that the individual sobering in the hallway bed has perhaps one of the highest one-year mortality rates of anyone seen in the department. Here’s how the study worked — and what we found To perform the study, we to...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 30, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Weiner, MD Tags: Addiction Health naloxone Source Type: blogs

Real-life healthy dinners (for real people with real busy lives)
At the end of a long workday, my husband and I will often trade texts figuring out who will pick up the kids at my mother’s, and who will deal with dinner. Thankfully, we’re equal partners in all responsibilities (except spider-killing, which is strictly Hubby’s job) and dietary preferences. We’re both health-conscious foodie types. We want good food that’s good for us. An unvarnished look at family dinner The kids, on the other hand… I’m not sure how this happened, but we somehow raised creatures with tastes vastly different from ours, and each other. We’ve never tried to c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 29, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

7 ways to prevent holiday stress — for your children
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire The holidays can be hectic — and tense. Between buying presents (expensive and nerve-racking), holiday events (how many holiday concerts can there be?), entertaining (so much cooking), traveling, and family gatherings (which are not always as pleasant as we might like), what should theoretically be fun has a way of becoming stressful. It can be stressful for kids, too. Okay, they aren’t driving long distances, dealing with office parties, or managing a credit card bill. But it is stressful nonetheless. Routines are off, there are so many expectations, and the ambient stress h...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Stress Source Type: blogs

Healthcare freebies that can make you, and your wallet, feel a little better
“Take the cookies, bring them home to the kids!” Craig always insists, as he pops a few into my lunch bag. It’s a heartwarming gesture that I love about his Sarasota deli — in addition to the killer turkey on whole wheat. You may not be surprised when local businesses throw in a freebie; they often go the extra mile to thank customers. But you may be surprised to know that there are lots of free things out there that can help your health. Okay, not cookies, but things with real value when it comes to improving everything from chronic disease to diet and fitness. Free prescription drugs Some stores (...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Health Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Fish oil capsules: Net benefits for the heart are limited
Every day, millions of people swallow fish oil capsules, many of them lured by the promise that the pills will help them cast off heart disease. In fact, the label of one popular brand includes the line, “May reduce coronary heart disease risk.” Don’t take the bait: these bold marketing claims haven’t caught up with the latest science. Earlier this year, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued an updated advisory about fish oil supplements and their cardiovascular benefits. Their verdict: fish oil supplements may slightly lower the risk of dying of heart failure or after a recent heart attack. B...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 24, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Drugs and Supplements Health Heart Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

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