Where do you stand on bystander CPR?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling A recent survey confirmed what many have suspected: if you collapsed, there’s a good chance that the average bystander would not be prepared to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). And if they tried to revive you, there’s an even better chance they wouldn’t do it correctly. Of course, there is a certain circularity to this — if you don’t know how to perform CPR, or if you know how but aren’t sure you’ll perform it correctly, you’ll be less likely to try. So why are so few prepared? The list of reasons is long, including: no prior in...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: First Aid Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Apple cider vinegar … for heartburn?
I’ve always thought it sounded counterintuitive to use an acid to alleviate indigestion, but the number of times I’ve heard people treat their symptoms of heartburn with apple cider vinegar is too large to count. So, I decided to look into whether this strategy works, and to do some investigation about the idea behind its use. To my surprise, there is no research published in medical journals that addresses using raw apple cider vinegar to treat heartburn, despite widespread use and recommendations from blogs and websites. What is heartburn? Heartburn is most commonly caused by stomach acid contents traveling u...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 28, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Digestive Disorders Folk remedies Health Source Type: blogs

Good news: fewer teens are being bullied
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire New data from the US Department of Education brings some really good news: fewer teens are being bullied. In 2007, 31.7% of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied. In 2015, that number was down to 20.8%, a drop of a third. Other stats were also encouraging: In 2007, 9.7% reported being called a hate-related word, compared with 7.2% in 2015 The percentage of teens reporting being bullied at school dropped from 6.6% in 2007 to 4.2% in 2015 More teens are telling an adult about bullying: those numbers went from 36.1% in 2007 to 43.1% in 2015. There are still too many kids getting bullie...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Mental Health Pregnancy Source Type: blogs

Rethinking A1C goals for type 2 diabetes
“Treat the patient, not the number.” This is a very old and sound medical school teaching. However, when it comes to blood sugar control in diabetes, we have tended to treat the number, thinking that a lower number would equal better health. Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes (also known as adult-onset diabetes) is associated with all sorts of very bad things: infections, angry nerve endings causing chronic pain, damaged kidneys, vision loss and blindness, blocked arteries causing heart attacks, strokes, and amputations… So of course, it made good sense that the lower the blood sugar, the lower the chances of ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diabetes Health Source Type: blogs

What happened when I stopped saying “Be careful”
December vacation was over. The weather had finally calmed down, and kindergarten was back on, so Milo and I were walking. He was ahead of me, as usual. His eyes were on a snow mountain that would soon be climbed, and not on a patch of ice. I decided to help out, and I did. I told him, “Be careful.” One more time. “Be careful” is what I said. I’m gonna brag: it’s Belichick-level genius. And it wasn’t my first time. I’ve broken out those three syllables with digging holes, riding a bike, sitting at the table, getting out of the tub, and probably eating a bagel, and I’m g...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 24, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Choosing the right mental health provider
When faced with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or other symptoms of the mind and brain, it can be difficult to know where to find the best care. In part, the challenge of finding the right professional for you stems from the highly variable manner in which mental health concerns can emerge. One person’s depression, for example, may be very different than someone else’s, and the same can be said for anxiety, post-traumatic stress, obsessionality, attentional issues, substance use disorders, and even psychosis. There are also lots of different kinds of mental health providers out there doin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Adam P. Stern, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Opioids in the household: “Sharing” pain pills is too common
This study alone identified almost six million people, and even this underestimates the problems because the study excluded patients with a cancer diagnosis or who were in hospice. Off the top of my head, I can think of multiple cases where I suspected or was told outright that others were using a hospice patient’s pain pills. I asked the study author, Marissa J. Seamans, PhD, about why they excluded these patients. “Because opioids are indicated for patients diagnosed with malignancy or in hospice care, we excluded them to more easily identify comparable NSAID patients,” she explained. While this made th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 22, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Addiction Drugs and Supplements Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

I ’m so lonesome I could cry
After only the opening chords and one or two bars of that haunting melody, you probably recognize the old song by Hank Williams — the one with the lyrics that express a feeling almost all of us have experienced: Hear that lonesome whippoorwill He sounds too blue to fly. The midnight train is whining low I’m so lonesome I could cry. Although the song captures a common feeling, we now know it is not just a feeling, but a condition that has a very real effect on the body, and as it turns out is also a public health problem — so much so that as the new year turned in Great Britain, the issues of loneliness an...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Christopher Bullock, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Caregiving Healthy Aging Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Does your child need a tonsillectomy?
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Tonsillectomies are one of the most common surgeries performed on children — but the decision to do one should not be taken lightly. In 1965, there were about a million tonsillectomies (with or without adenoidectomy, a surgery often done at the same time) performed on children younger than 15 years old. By 2006 that number had dropped by half, and by 2010 it had dropped by half again. Why the drop? Well, complications are common. In fact, one in five children who have a tonsillectomy has a complication. The most common is breathing difficulty, which can affect one in 10. Bleeding affect...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Ear, nose, and throat Parenting Surgery Source Type: blogs

When dying is a rebirth
Follow me on Twitter @1111linno My life is extraordinary. Such a hyperbolic-sounding statement and yet, in so many ways, so very true. Extraordinary because a decade ago I was told I had three to five months left to live. Diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) three years earlier, the removal of most of my left lung followed by chemotherapy had done little to slow down the cancer. Too diffuse for radiation, we had run out of options. And so, I did what the dying do. Grieving as preparations began. I bid adieu to friends and family, held my children even closer, and sought the help of a thoracic social worker. Th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Linnea Olson Tags: Cancer Health Source Type: blogs

The story of your life and the power of memoir
I play poker in a weekly game hosted by an 80-year-old man named Mort. During a recent game, I noticed a stack of composition books, scribbled-over yellow pads, and Bic pens spread over his dining table. What was he up to? Mort said he had lost his sense of purpose and identity, so he turned to something he knew a lot about — his life story — and began to write his memoirs. Mort’s reaction is quite common among older adults, as is his response. As people age, they may begin to feel irrelevant to those around them, especially their families, which often leads to low self-esteem, greater isolation, and a hi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Aging Mental Health Source Type: blogs

What patients — and doctors — need to know about vitamins and supplements
A recently published clinical guideline on vitamin and mineral supplements reinforces every other evidence-based guideline, research review, and consensus statement on this topic. The bottom line is that there is absolutely no substitute for a well-balanced diet, which is the ideal source of the vitamins and minerals we need. The brief article, co-authored by nutrition guru Dr. JoAnn Manson, cites multiple large clinical trials studying multiple nutritional supplements’ effects on multiple end points. The gist of it is, our bodies prefer naturally occurring sources of vitamins and minerals. We absorb these better. An...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Drugs and Supplements Health Healthy Eating Prevention Vitamins and supplements Source Type: blogs

FDA approves new drug for men at high risk of prostate cancer spread
A newly approved drug called apalutamide is giving hope to thousands of men confronting a tenacious problem after being treated for prostate cancer. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels should plummet to zero after surgery, and to near zero after radiation therapy, but in some men, they continue rising even when there’s no other evidence of cancer in the body. Doctors typically respond to spiking PSA with drugs that block the production of testosterone, which is the male sex hormone that fuels prostate cancer. However, this type of medically induced castration, called hormonal therapy, doesn’t always reduce P...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Cancer Health Men's Health Prostate Health Source Type: blogs

Eating well to help manage anxiety: Your questions answered
Does diet affect anxiety? If so, what should I eat, and which foods should I try to avoid? People who suffer with anxiety should remember a few simple rules: Low blood sugar, poor hydration, use of alcohol, caffeine, and smoking can also precipitate or mimic symptoms of anxiety. Eating regular meals and preventing hypoglycemic states are therefore important. Adequately hydrating with plain water is best, at least 6 to 8 glasses a day. While nicotine does not cause anxiety, withdrawal from nicotine can mimic anxiety, and people with anxiety may smoke to soothe themselves. It may become a problematic behavior, as nicotine c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Uma Naidoo, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Healthy Eating Mental Health Source Type: blogs

In children and teens, depression doesn ’t always look like sadness
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire When we think of a depressed person, we tend to think of someone who, well, acts sad. The picture we have in our head is of someone who doesn’t want to get off the couch or out of bed, who is eating much less or much more than usual, has trouble sleeping or wants to sleep all the time, who has trouble with usual daily activities, and doesn’t talk much. Children and teens with depression can certainly look like that. But depression can play out in different ways, too. Numbers are hard to come by in younger children, but among 12-to-17-year-olds, almost 13% have had a major depressi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Why it ’s so hard to lose excess weight and keep it off: The Biggest Losers’ experience
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling For most people trying to lose weight, it’s a struggle. It takes more than good intentions and a lot of will power. One reason is that in order to lose weight, we are, in a way, fighting our own biology. As we lose weight, the body adapts to resist it by lowering the resting metabolic rate — that’s the amount of energy spent while at rest, when the “engine” of the body is idling. Lowering the resting metabolic rate is a good thing if food is scarce and weight loss is occurring due to starvation. In that situation, it’s good that the body slows down to c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Source Type: blogs

Can you rewire your brain to get out of a rut? (Yes you can …)
Regardless of the context, routines — once comforting and safe — can gradually become ruts. Stable relationships, familiar patterns, and secure jobs can quickly lead to boredom, depression, unconscious anxiety, or a debilitating addiction. As Brooklyn clergyman Samuel Parkes Cadman once said, “the only difference between a rut and a grave is a matter of depth.” Ruts are indeed threatening and stultifying. But are we doomed to be in them once we fall into them, or can our brains be changed? To answer this question, psychologist and brain researcher Caroline Di Bernardi Luft and her colleagues conduct...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Srini Pillay, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Source Type: blogs

Can you rewire brain to get out of a rut? (Yes you can …)
Regardless of the context, routines — once comforting and safe — can gradually become ruts. Stable relationships, familiar patterns, and secure jobs can quickly lead to boredom, depression, unconscious anxiety, or a debilitating addiction. As Brooklyn clergyman Samuel Parkes Cadman once said, “the only difference between a rut and a grave is a matter of depth.” Ruts are indeed threatening and stultifying. But are we doomed to be in them once we fall into them, or can our brains be changed? To answer this question, psychologist and brain researcher Caroline Di Bernardi Luft and her colleagues conduct...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Srini Pillay, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Source Type: blogs

5 things that can help you take a pass on kidney stones
If you’ve ever passed a kidney stone, you probably would not wish it on your worst enemy, and you’ll do anything to avoid it again. “Kidney stones are more common in men than in women, and in about half of people who have had one, kidney stones strike again within 10 to 15 years without preventive measures,” says Dr. Brian Eisner, co-director of the Kidney Stone Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. Where do kidney stones come from? Kidney stones form develop when certain substances, such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid, become concentrated enough to form crystals in your ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Health Kidney and urinary tract Source Type: blogs

Inducing labor: A way to avoid a cesarean?
This study was not designed to create a far-reaching strategy or method to reduce the already-way-too-high cesarean delivery rate in this country. It was designed to make sure we weren’t causing harm to babies by inducing labor at 39 weeks. So, the ARRIVE trial has given us something to think about The results were announced for the very first time at a recent meeting of the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine and will be published soon in a peer-reviewed journal. The process of peer review, during which the methods, results, and limitations of the study are evaluated by experts, is going to help us to focus on the m...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Toni Golen, MD Tags: Children's Health Family Planning and Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Scary news about childhood obesity
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire The latest data on childhood obesity was just released, and the news isn’t good. A full 41.5% of 16-to-19-year-olds were overweight in 2015–2016, a jump from 36.7% just two years before. The numbers were even worse for girls in that age group: 47.9% of them were overweight, up from 35.6% in 2013–2014. That’s not a good trend. There was another worrisome trend among 2-to-5-year-olds, among whom 26% were overweight. If you look at the percentage that was not just overweight but obese, between 2013–2014 and 2015–2016, the percentage went from 9.3% to 13.7%. Th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

CGRP: A new era for migraine treatment
Migraine is a common medical condition, affecting as many as 37 million people in the US. It is considered a systemic illness, not just a headache. Recent research has demonstrated that changes may begin to occur in the brain as long as 24 hours before migraine symptoms begin. Many patients have a severe throbbing headache, often on only one side of the head. Some people are nauseated with vomiting. Many are light sensitive (photophobic) and sound sensitive (phonophobic), and these symptoms can persist after the pain goes away. There are a variety of migraine subtypes with symptoms that include weakness, numbness, visual c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Carolyn A. Bernstein, MD, FAHS Tags: Drugs and Supplements Headache Health Migraines Pain Management Source Type: blogs

6 simple things that can help lower your blood pressure
In November 2017 the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology changed the definition for high blood pressure. One day your blood pressure of 130/80 was normal — the next day you had stage 1 hypertension, and suddenly you found yourself in a higher risk category formerly reserved for people with blood pressure of 140/90. While you probably don’t feel like celebrating the change, it may actually be a good thing. “These guidelines have been long anticipated and are very welcome by most high blood pressure experts,” says Dr. Naomi Fisher, associate professor of medicine at Harva...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Prevention Source Type: blogs

Knowing when to screen … and when to quit
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Let us sing the praises of good medical screening tests. These are the tests that can detect medical problems before they become untreatable and before they cause complications or even death. Even better are those screening tests that detect “predisease” — abnormalities that aren’t dangerous on their own but can lead to problems later. According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, relatively few screening tests are considered good enough to routinely recommend for adults, including mammography for breast cancer (women) Pap smear for cervical cancer (women) b...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 1, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Cancer Health Prevention Screening Source Type: blogs

Is adrenal fatigue “real”?
Low energy and tiredness are among the most common reasons patients seek help from a doctor. Despite being so common, it is often challenging to come up with a diagnosis, as many medical problems can cause fatigue. Doctors engage in detective work, obtaining a medical history, doing a physical exam, and doing blood tests. The results often yield no explanations. It can be frustrating for clinicians and patients when a clear-cut diagnosis remains elusive. An attractive theory, called adrenal fatigue, links stress exposure to adrenal exhaustion as a possible cause of this lack of energy. But is adrenal fatigue a real disease...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 28, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

4 tips for raising well-behaved children
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire We all want our children to be well-behaved. We want our child to be the one who is kind, says “please” and “thank you,” does as he is told, and doesn’t get in trouble at school or bother kids at the playground. The problem, as any parent can attest, is that raising a well-behaved child is hard work. Some of it is temperament — every child is different. Some children are rule-followers, and some of them, well, aren’t. But mostly it’s hard because it is an ongoing, exhausting process that requires that we always keep our eye on the ultimate goal ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Active mind/body, healthy mind/body
We describe a concrete regimen of exercise rather than simply saying, “exercise” and leaving it at that. Many patients don’t know how to get started, and specific details about using machines, weights, running, and other techniques prove valuable. Practical details are important, and we take time to answer any and all questions a patient might have. The physician-patient partnership around overall health goals is crucial. As partners, they can work together to include exercise as one tool among many to help achieve good health. Follow-up is also key to encourage continued elaboration of goals, to educate ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Carolyn A. Bernstein, MD, FAHS Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

Spinning: Good for the heart and muscles, gentle on joints
As part of my 2018 fitness goals, I have resolved to spend two days a week in what I playfully call “the pain cave.” No, it’s not a setting for Game of Thrones, but one of the most challenging (and rewarding) workouts I have ever tried: spinning, also known as indoor cycling. Spinning classes are staples at most gyms, and there are even entire fitness centers devoted to nothing but spinning. A class typically lasts 45 minutes to an hour and is led by an instructor who guides everyone through a series of heart-pumping workouts. For instance, you might do speed work, where you pedal fast for brief periods f...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 24, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): Hope for stubborn depression
Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States among people ages 15 to 44. While there are many effective treatments for depression, first-line approaches such as antidepressants and psychotherapy do not work for everyone. In fact, approximately two-thirds of people with depression don’t get adequate relief from the first antidepressant they try. After 2 months of treatment, at least some symptoms will remain for these individuals, and each subsequent medication tried is actually less likely to help than the one prior. What can people with depression do when they do not respond to first-line treat...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Adam P. Stern, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Diet and depression
Just this week, I have seen three patients with depression requiring treatment. Treatment options include medications, therapy, and self-care. Self-care includes things like sleep, physical activity, and diet, and is just as important as meds and therapy — sometimes more… In counseling my patients about self-care, I always feel like we don’t have enough time to get into diet. I am passionate about diet and lifestyle measures for good health, because there is overwhelming evidence supporting the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle for, oh, just about everything: preventing cardiovascular disease, can...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 22, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Healthy Eating Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Dr. Google: The top 10 health searches in 2017
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Ever wonder what other people are wondering about? I know I do. So, here are the top 10 health searches in Google for 2017. And just so you don’t have to look each one up, I’ve provided a brief answer. You’re welcome. 1.  What causes hiccups? I was surprised this one made it to the top 10 list of health searches. Maybe this search is common because hiccups are as mysterious as they are universal. I’ve written about hiccups before, but let’s just say the cause in any individual person is rarely known or knowable. Then again, the reason hiccups stop is als...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Guns are killing our children. It ’s time we did something
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire We are all reeling from the news of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead and 14 injured. A 19-year-old former student has confessed to the shooting. He used a semiautomatic weapon that he purchased legally a year ago. Five years ago, when a gunman opened fire with a similar weapon at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, killing first-graders and teachers, there was an uproar: we must stop this from happening, we said. We must do something. But we didn’t.  And since the shooting at Sandy Hook, there have been at least 239 school shootings, with...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Prevention Source Type: blogs

Is red wine actually good for your heart?
Have you ever topped off your glass of cabernet or pinot noir while saying, “Hey, it’s good for my heart, right?” This widely held impression dates back to a catchphrase coined in the late 1980s: the French Paradox. The French Paradox refers to the notion that drinking wine may explain the relatively low rates of heart disease among the French, despite their fondness for cheese and other rich, fatty foods. This theory helped spur the discovery of a host of beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols. Found in red and purple grape skins (as well as many other fruits, vegetables, and nuts), polyphenols ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

Is red wine good actually for your heart?
Have you ever topped off your glass of cabernet or pinot noir while saying, “Hey, it’s good for my heart, right?” This widely held impression dates back to a catchphrase coined in the late 1980s: the French Paradox. The French Paradox refers to the notion that drinking wine may explain the relatively low rates of heart disease among the French, despite their fondness for cheese and other rich, fatty foods. This theory helped spur the discovery of a host of beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols. Found in red and purple grape skins (as well as many other fruits, vegetables, and nuts), polyphenols ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

Stem-cell transplant: A possible high-risk/high-reward treatment for scleroderma
In this study, 36 people with severe scleroderma received stem-cell transplantation and were compared with 39 otherwise similar people who received a year of standard immune-suppressing medication. After 4.5 years, those assigned to receive stem-cell transplantation had improved overall survival compared with standard treatment (79% vs. 50%) less need for immune-suppressing medication (9% vs. 44%) fewer deaths related to worsening scleroderma (11% vs. 28%) more deaths related to treatment — (3% vs. 0%). These findings suggest that stem-cell transplantation may be much better than standard treatment for people with ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Autoimmune diseases Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

How to welcome back a colleague who is in recovery
It can be awkward or difficult to welcome back a colleague who has been absent for reasons related to mental health. These issues, historically, have been taboo, and are loaded with stigma. It is hard to know how to act toward a colleague who has returned from treatment for a mental health issue. Do I ask about it? Do I pretend that nothing happened? Do I say that I hope they are feeling better? Usually, none of these options feels right. This difficulty is particularly true when colleagues return from being treated for problems with drugs or alcohol. The stigma in our society against people suffering from addiction is ram...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Mental Health Workplace health Source Type: blogs

February and the heart: More than Valentine ’s Day
Today is Valentine’s Day and many of us turn our thoughts to hearts and love. But there is more than one day this month to think about the heart and heart health. February is Heart Month, and with it, I hope many people make a commitment to getting heart healthy. As a cardiologist, many well-intentioned people will come to my office seeking guidance, especially about weight loss. While January sees an uptick in gym memberships, by the time February rolls around, dedication to working out becomes challenging. Exercise is, of course, heart healthy and everyone should make an effort to stay physically active. But, few p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ami Bhatt, MD, FACC Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

This Valentine ’s Day, 14 ways parents can show love for their children
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Valentine’s Day — a day we associate with love. Usually we think of the day in terms of romantic love, with cards and flowers for our partner, but it can also be a day to show love for our children and to think about how we can better make our children feel loved all year round. When children feel loved, it not only builds happiness, but confidence and resilience, both of which can make a lifelong difference. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests these 14 tips for this February 14th 1.   Be positive and encouraging when you talk with your children....
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Calcium, vitamin D, and fractures (oh my!)
When I saw the headlines about this recently published study on bone health saying “Vitamin D and calcium supplements may not lower fracture risk” I thought: Wait, that’s news? I think I remember seeing that headline a few years ago. Indeed, in 2015, this very blog reported on similar studies of calcium supplements, noting that calcium supplements have risks and side effects, and are not likely indicated for most healthy community-dwelling adults over 50. These folks are not in a high-risk category for vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, and fractures, and we usually advise them to get their calcium from ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Osteoporosis Source Type: blogs

A doctor answers 5 questions about dry skin
In the winter months, I wash my hands regularly and use a squirt of hand sanitizer from time to time in an effort to ward off colds. It may be a good health habit, but it also pretty much guarantees that I’m plagued by dry, cracked skin and tiny cuts around my fingers until spring. Dry skin in the winter months is common, partly because people ramp up their hand washing, but the combination of cold air and the lack of humidity also plays a role. Your skin spends the winter months fighting to retain moisture, not to mention fending off other insults from cold-weather staples like scratchy wool clothes and crackling wo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Expert advice on how to quit smoking
Okay, everyone knows smoking is bad for you, the number one cause of preventable death in the US and the world, a direct cause of lung and heart disease and cancer… et cetera. So let’s get right down to the nitty-gritty: quitting smoking is tough. What can people do to quit? To answer this question, I spoke with my colleague Nancy Rigotti, MD. Dr. Rigotti is director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Tobacco Research and Treatment Center. She has extensively researched nicotine and tobacco, evaluated public policies on tobacco, contributed to US Surgeon General’s Reports, and authored clinical guidel...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Health Heart Health Lung disease Prevention Smoking cessation Source Type: blogs

Vaccinations: More than just kid stuff
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling This is the time of year when it’s important to think about flu vaccinations. And there’s good reason for that! The flu causes thousands of preventable hospitalizations and deaths each year. But what about other vaccinations? Do you think of them as something for kids? You aren’t alone. And it’s true, a number of vaccinations are recommended for young children as well as preteens and teenagers. These vaccinations have provided an enormous benefit to public health by preventing diseases that were common and sometimes deadly in the past, including polio, rubella, and...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Infectious diseases Prevention Vaccines Source Type: blogs

4 things all parents should do to help prevent sexual abuse
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire The trial of Larry Nasser, the physician who sexually abused female gymnasts, has been deeply disturbing. It’s hard to fathom how he managed to abuse hundreds of girls for so many years. Sadly, this can happen with sexual abuse. Very often, the perpetrator is someone known to the family, someone they may even trust. Very often, victims don’t understand that what is happening to them is abuse — and very often, talking about it is hard because of shame and fear. As a society, we need to do a better job of protecting our children. But there are also lessons that parents can tea...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Prevention Source Type: blogs

“Me time” sounds good, but when exactly?
I got a new doctor last year and at my first exam, he asked the standard, “What do you like to do for fun?” I laughed at him. I said that I have a 6-year-old and 3-year-old, mumbled something about poker games, and then my answer stopped. I’m not complaining, at least not much. I like my family and they require time. I don’t mind giving it, though I also work at home, a personal choice that comes with great benefits. But I can’t completely disappear, so sometimes, it just feels like an unending amount of time. My friends with older kids try to be supportive, saying that my wife, Jenny, and I a...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Stress Source Type: blogs

This year ’s flu season: Public health catastrophe or par for the course?
Follow me on Twitter @JohnRossMD If you think that there’s a lot of flu going around this January, you’re absolutely right. Every state except Hawaii is reporting widespread influenza activity, making for a lot of miserable people suffering from classic flu symptoms of cough, fever, headache, stuffy nose, and achy muscles. Hospitals across the United States have been flooded with flu patients. Matters have been made worse by national shortages of IV fluids in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Are we headed toward a historically bad flu season? It’s too early to tell. This year, it could just be that flu season...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Cold and Flu Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

When gambling might be a problem
Follow me on Twitter @Howard_Shaffer Just as we’ve finished welcoming the new year, sports fans are getting ready to celebrate the Super Bowl. This event marks the single most active gambling-related activity in the world. For most gamblers, betting on the outcome of a sporting event, lottery drawing, casino table game, or any event with an outcome determined by chance represents an entertaining recreational activity. However, for some, gambling can become an addiction. Excessive gambling recognized as an addiction Gambling disorder is now a part of the American Psychiatric Association’s latest version of its d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 1, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Howard J. Shaffer, PhD, CAS Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Source Type: blogs

Newer drugs are improving survival for men with metastatic prostate cancer
This study provides important information that men with advanced forms of prostate cancer are now living longer than they once did, sometimes years longer. Those of us who have been treating prostate cancer for decades appreciate this study’s fundamental finding that the improved longevity from newer cancer drugs is considerable.” The post Newer drugs are improving survival for men with metastatic prostate cancer appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Source: Harvard Health Blog)
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 31, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Cancer Health Men's Health Prostate Health Source Type: blogs

Why teenagers eat Tide pods
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire It’s been on the news recently: teens are eating Tide detergent pods — despite the fact that eating them can be lethal. They film themselves doing it; it’s the “Tide Pod Challenge.” It’s not like they don’t know it can be dangerous. Besides the fact that it’s common knowledge that detergent isn’t food, there has been a lot of media coverage about the dangers of toddlers getting into them, about how Tide pods are not just poisonous but possibly lethal. The media coverage, actually, is part of the problem. But the real problem is the adolesc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 30, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Safety Source Type: blogs

A neurologist talks about kids and headaches
It’s not uncommon for a child to complain of a headache. But what should a parent do? When should you worry? What are features that are cause for concern and should prompt a call to the pediatrician, or even a trip to the emergency room? For kids with headaches, do they necessarily need to take medication, or are there other nondrug treatments that may be just as effective? When to call your pediatrician The cardinal rule for thinking about headaches is “first or worst.” In practical terms, if your child has never had a headache before, you need to evaluate carefully. Did he have any recent head trauma, ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Carolyn A. Bernstein, MD, FAHS Tags: Children's Health Headache Parenting Source Type: blogs

10 things you can do for your pet when it ’s cold outside
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Venturing out in frigid conditions with our golden retriever, I was wishing I had worn another layer or two. And that got me thinking. Sparky’s got a thick coat of fur, but is that enough? Is there more I should be doing for him during cold snaps? On our last walk, I’m pretty sure he would have said yes. In fact, there are a number of things we can do to make sure our pets are safe during the worst of winter. Here are 10 things experts recommend: 1.  When returning from a walk, clean off your pet’s paws and check them for redness or cracks. 2.  Apply petroleum ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Pets Source Type: blogs