Physicians and opioids: Part of the solution, but challenges ahead
With more than 200 million prescriptions for opioid medications being written every year, it’s hard to escape the notion that physicians must share some of the blame for creating the opioid epidemic facing the nation. The criticism has come from many quarters. Editorial writers have pointed the finger of blame, as have high-ranking elected officials. More than a third of the American public think doctors are at fault, and even members of our own profession have acknowledged the unwitting complicity of physicians. There’s no denying it. Despite our well-intentioned motivation to care for our patients and treat t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James S. Gessner, MD Tags: Addiction Health Health care Mental Health Source Type: blogs

The problem with tanning (and the myth of the base tan)
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Are you a person who loves to be tan? Do you pine after the bronzed look of jet-setting celebrities just back from the tropics? If so, you’re not alone — let’s face it, we’re a culture that’s obsessed with being tan. It’s attractive, fashionable, and a sign of good health, right? Actually, sun exposure or spending time in tanning booths has many health experts worried: it damages skin and increases the risk of skin cancer. The risk rises if tanning leads to a sunburn — according to the American Academy of Dermatology, a single blistering sunburn c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Cancer Children's Health Parenting Prevention Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

6 ways to help keep your baby at a healthy weight
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Everyone loves a chubby baby — there’s something about a roly-poly belly and thighs that is completely adorable. “Baby fat” is something people don’t worry about. Not only do we think of it as cute, we think of it as healthy — and temporary. Unfortunately, it’s not healthy or temporary. Which is why parents need to be mindful of their baby’s weight. It used to be that baby fat was indeed healthy and temporary. In days when infant mortality was high, a little heft meant some extra reserves for the baby. And until recently, most children lost thei...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 11, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Healthy Eating Parenting Source Type: blogs

Cracking the coconut oil craze
If you Google “coconut oil,” you’ll see a slew of stories touting the alleged health benefits of this solid white fat, which is easy to find in supermarkets these days. But how can something that’s chock-full of saturated fat — a known culprit in raising heart disease risk — be good for you? Coconut does have some unique qualities that enthusiasts cite to explain its alleged health benefits. But the evidence to support those claims is very thin, says Dr. Qi Sun, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “If you want to lowe...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 10, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Drugs and Supplements Heart Health coconut oil Source Type: blogs

Treating pain after opioid addiction: A personal story
Follow me on Twitter @Peter_Grinspoon As a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), I am profoundly grateful for my 10 years in recovery from opiate addiction. As detailed in my memoir Free Refills, I fell into an all too common trap for physicians, succumbing to stress and ready access to medications, and became utterly and completely addicted to the painkillers Percocet and Vicodin. After an unspeakably stressful visit in my office by the State Police and the DEA, three felony charges, being fingerprinted, two years of probation, 90 days in rehab, and losing my medical license for three years, I fi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 7, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, M.D. Tags: Addiction Drugs and Supplements Managing your health care Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Don ’t let allergy season catch you off guard
The woman next to me in the checkout line looked upset. Her eyes were red and her nose was running. My first thought was to give her privacy, until I saw her shopping basket filled with supplies to fight allergy symptoms, and then our eyes met. “I can’t believe how bad my allergies are this year!” she said, exasperated. My fellow shopper isn’t the only one suffering. “Warm weather and a mild winter, as we’ve experienced this year, can stimulate trees to pollinate. The southern U.S., which has a warmer climate, is particularly susceptible to earlier allergy seasons. Other climate factors ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 6, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Asthma and Allergies Source Type: blogs

H. pylori, a true stomach “bug”: Who should doctors test and treat?
In 1982, two Australian scientists discovered that a certain bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, was a common cause of persistent stomach inflammation and stomach ulcers. This realization revolutionized ulcer treatment. While fairly common, this infection usually causes no symptoms, but it can sometimes lead to ulcers in the stomach or the very first part of the small intestine (duodenum), and to certain types of stomach cancer. There is also evidence linking H. pylori infection to other conditions like iron-deficiency anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency. The bacteria are thought to spread through contaminated water, vomit, or f...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Infectious diseases Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

The flu shot saves children ’s lives
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Of the 358 children who died from influenza between 2010 and 2014, only 26% had been vaccinated against it, according to a study just released in the journal Pediatrics. That means 74%, or three out of four of them, had not. And maybe if they had been vaccinated, they’d be alive right now. Of all the vaccines I give as a pediatrician, the flu shot is the one that families refuse most. Parents don’t think they need it. They don’t think it works. They think it is dangerous. This frustrates me, because none of these reasons for refusing the flu shot are true. Influenza can be a...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 4, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Parenting Prevention Vaccines Source Type: blogs

If you have low back pain try these steps first
Low back pain, the scourge of mankind: it is the second leading cause of disability here in the United States, and the fourth worldwide. It’s also one of the top five medical problems for which people see doctors. Almost every day that I see patients, I see someone with back pain. It’s one of the top reasons for lost wages due to missed work, as well as for healthcare dollars spent, hence, a very expensive problem. Looking at two kinds of back pain Let’s talk about the most common forms of back pain: acute (which lasts less than four weeks) and subacute (which lasts four to 12 weeks). Most of these cases ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 3, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Back Pain Managing your health care Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Eat better, live longer
In this study, researchers analyzed patient surveys between 1990 and 2012, food availability data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and data on cardiovascular deaths in 2015. They estimated that the biggest contributors to the premature cardiovascular deaths of more than 220,000 men and about 190,000 women were due to high consumption of salt and trans fat (a particularly unhealthy form of unsaturated fat commonly found in processed foods as “partially hydrogenated oils”) low consumption of nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains. And here’s why it matters: Cardiovascul...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 31, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Heart Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

Find your exercise style
My husband Jay and I turn into super nerds on our brisk morning walk. We sport decidedly uncool but comfy clothes and sneakers, clock the times when we leave and return, count our steps, sometimes break into a run for interval training, and alternate routes in the neighborhood — all while flailing our arms (okay, that’s just me), gabbing away (me again), laughing, and analyzing the issues of the day. It’s fun — like a mini date — and it’s always interesting. The routine suits us. And that comfortable fit is key to sustaining an exercise program. “Finding an activity you enjoy is an...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 30, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

Our planet, ourselves: Climate change and health
Follow me on Twitter @Peter_Grinspoon At first glance, climate change and personal health may not seem related. One is a global political and environmental concern, while the other deals ultimately with an individual’s well-being. However, climate change is already directly affecting human health in many parts of our world, including many areas of the United States. We are just beginning to understand, and to witness, the health effects of climate change. The problem with a warmer planet As human-made carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere increase, we create a “greenhouse effect,” and our world warms. T...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 29, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, M.D. Tags: Health Health care Source Type: blogs

Why the AHCA would have been bad for children — and an unavoidable truth moving forward
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Last week the Republicans’ proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, failed to get the support it needed and was taken off the table. This is good news for children. Despite all the problems with health insurance generally and the ACA specifically, things are going pretty well for children when it comes to health insurance. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, currently 95% of children in the United States have health insurance, thanks to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the ACA. The proposed replacement, called the Am...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Health Managing your health care Parenting Source Type: blogs

Long-term use of opioids may depend on the doctor who prescribes them
You may have heard of the phrase “primum non nocere” — the Latin phrase that doctors are supposed to follow that instructs them to “first, do no harm.” Doctors also have an important ethical obligation to alleviate pain. But what happens when these two mandates collide? That, unfortunately, is the case with opioid pain relievers: powerful medicines like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. These medications are potent pain relievers, but this relief comes at a serious, and sometimes deadly, cost. The United States is now in the era of an “opioid epidemic” in which deaths from...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Weiner, M.D. Tags: Addiction Drugs and Supplements Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Eating better: 3 keys to healthy grocery shopping
With the New Year a few months behind us now, hectic schedules and daily distractions have gotten in the way of our most well intended resolutions. If you are still looking to work on being healthier this year, eating healthier is a good option that may be easier than it seems. As Hippocrates (the “father” of modern medicine) once said, “Let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine thy food.” We are realizing more and more how much our daily behaviors and our food choices impact our health and well-being. There are many factors that can get in the way of our efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle includi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 24, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dominic Wu, MD Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

5 habits that foster weight loss
Let’s face it: the hardest part about losing weight isn’t about knowing what to eat. You’ve heard it a thousand times: eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. The real challenge is changing your habits to make those healthy choices part of your everyday routine without feeling too deprived. Dr. George L. Blackburn, who directs the Center for Nutrition Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has treated countless overweight and obese people over his 40-plus-year career. The following are five proven strategies that many of his patients have found helpful...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 23, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Home remedies that may be worth a try
Harvard Medical School embraces evidence-based medicine — treatments that have been shown to be effective through high-quality studies called randomized controlled clinical trials. So it’s always a little surprising when a Harvard doctor proposes a home remedy, as Dr. James P. Ioli did in an interview about toenail fungus. Dr. Ioli, who is chief of the podiatry service at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, suggested that daily applications of Vicks VapoRub might be at least as effective as most of the topical treatments for toenail fungus that are available by prescription or over the counte...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Beverly Merz Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Health Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Teen drug use is down: Better parenting, or more smartphones?
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Fewer teens are using drugs. That’s the news from the Monitoring the Future study, which has been surveying more than 40,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders about their drug use for more than four decades. While marijuana use has been steady, use of all other illicit drugs (including prescription amphetamines or narcotics being used outside of medical supervision) is down. In 1996, 13% of eighth graders reported using illicit drugs (besides marijuana) in the previous year; in 2016, it was 5%. For 10th graders the number went from 18% to 10%, and for 12th graders it went from 20% to 14%. T...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 21, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Addiction Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Can you virtually improve your knee pain?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling If you’ve ever had significant or persistent knee pain, you know it can be a major problem. Climbing stairs or just walking around can be agony, and trying to exercise on a bad knee can be impossible. For people with severe osteoarthritis of the knee — the type most closely linked with aging or prior injury — knee pain may be unrelenting and often worsens over time, causing disability and reduced quality of life. Osteoarthritis is also expensive: we spend billions of dollars taking care of this condition each year in the U.S. The prevalence of osteoarthritis and the cost...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Health Managing your health care Pain Management Source Type: blogs

How good is my doctor? Awards, acronyms, and anecdotes …Oh my
Choosing the right physician is critically important, but what are reliable markers for what makes a doctor good? And the award goes to… Physician recognition awards can be a funny thing. By funny I mean they at times have no real merit. I used to have an office at Somerville Hospital, and I recall receiving a letter in the mail stating, “Congratulations Paul G. Mathew, MD!!! You are one of the top neurologists in Somerville, Massachusetts.” The very official-appearing letter was accompanied by an order form for various certificates, plaques, and even Oscar-like statues that I could have purchased to dis...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 17, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS Tags: Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

How good is my doctor? Awards, acronyms, and anecdotes …Oh my
Choosing the right physician is critically important, but what are reliable markers for what makes a doctor good? And the award goes to… Physician recognition awards can be a funny thing. By funny I mean they at times have no real merit. I used to have an office at Somerville Hospital, and I recall receiving a letter in the mail stating, “Congratulations Paul G. Mathew, MD!!! You are one of the top neurologists in Somerville, Massachusetts.” The very official-appearing letter was accompanied by an order form for various certificates, plaques, and even Oscar-like statues that I could have purchased to dis...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 17, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS Tags: Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Is ADHD overdiagnosed and overtreated?
Pieter Cohen, M.D., Michael Hochman, M.D., M.P.H., Rachael Bedard, M.D. Follow us on Twitter @slowmedupdates Gretchen LeFever, a clinical psychologist at Eastern Virginia Medical School, wanted to understand how many children had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at elementary schools in Virginia communities. Her findings among the 30,000 children she studied in the 1990s foreshadowed a national pattern: rates of ADHD varied widely among districts, and the rates in some communities were much higher than predicted. In some school districts, by the fifth grade one in five white boys had...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 16, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Updates in Slow Medicine Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Drugs and Supplements Parenting Source Type: blogs

Making health social: Friends and family as part of the health care team
Follow me on Twitter @DavidAScales “We’ll stop by McDonald’s once I get out of the hospital,” Arturo told his brother. Arturo (not his real name), was 21 years old and had just been diagnosed with diabetes. He and his brother loved fast food, McDonald’s being one of their most frequent haunts. Unfortunately, this new diagnosis was likely to change that. This was Arturo’s first health problem, ever. He had a few days of being extremely thirsty but needing to urinate every hour or two. Then, for about a day he couldn’t keep anything down. Vomiting, his belly aching, he came into the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD Tags: Behavioral Health Caregiving Health care Managing your health care Prevention Source Type: blogs

American Academy of Pediatrics urges care and compassion for immigrant children
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Immigrant children are… children. That’s an important point that can easily be lost in the discussions about what our country should do with immigrants and refugees. In the past few months those discussions have grown more heated, with new executive orders, discussions of a border wall, and rhetoric about the danger of letting people into the United States. In fiscal year 2016, 59, 692 unaccompanied children and 77, 676 individuals in family units were apprehended at the border. These are not drug dealers or terrorists; they are people looking for a better life. It’s import...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 14, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Source Type: blogs

What ’s the evidence for evidence-based medicine?
Patients come in all the time asking about things they read about on the internet, or heard about from a friend. It may be an unexpected explanation for their mysterious symptoms, or a new test, or an amazing treatment they want to try. Heck, when I see things that I’m curious about, I research them, and sometimes I try them, too. When I was hugely pregnant and due and couldn’t stand even one more day as an awkward whale, I tried red raspberry leaf tea. When breastfeeding proved both difficult and painful, I tried …oh. just about everything, actually. Fenugreek tea, lanolin ointment, chamomile poultices....
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Health care Managing your health care Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

White coat syndrome or white coat logo syndrome? The pitfalls of doctor shopping by “brand”
People often get hung up on brand names—many times in situations where branding is of little significance. For example, some people are willing to pay double the price for a wool coat that is exactly the same in terms of material, style, and outward appearance just because there is a small designer label on the lining that nobody sees. In some cases, the brand-name and no-name wool coats are manufactured in the exact same factory. The consumer had the wool pulled over their eyes in terms of the price markup for identical merchandise. This can also happen when it comes to health care. Co-pay or co-played? In terms of ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 10, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS Tags: Health Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Time spent in “green” places linked with longer life in women
In this study, those women that lived in greener spaces were more physically active. Living among trees, plants, grass, and flowers provides an environment with less pollution than one with low levels of vegetation. The plants can reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, which lowers the level of pollution. In this study, death from respiratory disease was reduced by about one third in those women who lived in the homes with the highest amount of vegetation. Breathing clean air matters, and plants help to clean the air. Take advantage of green spaces If you live in an area with heavy vegetation, this is go...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 9, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Prevention Stress Women's Health Source Type: blogs

How to rediscover meaning in your life
Follow me on Twitter @srinipillay When people feel that their lives have meaning, they perceive their lives as significant, purposeful, and valuable. This is critical for psychological wellbeing. People who feel that their lives have meaning feel less depressed and even have better outcomes in psychotherapy. Feeling that one’s life has meaning can also ease the psychological burden of medical illnesses. For example, people who have medical conditions such as a spinal cord injury cope better when they feel that their lives have meaning, and having a sense of meaning can improve the quality of life in cancer patients. ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Srini Pillay, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Stress Source Type: blogs

Parents: Call the doctor right away for these 4 symptoms
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire As a pediatrician, I’ve talked on the phone with lots of parents of sick children. As I ask my questions and try to understand what’s going on and how I can help, there are a few symptoms in particular that I listen for. I don’t hear them often. Most of the time, it’s not serious (that’s one of the great things about pediatrics). But when I hear them, I get scared because I know there is a chance that the child is very sick, and that if they don’t get medical attention quickly, something bad could happen. The thing about these symptoms, too, is that many pa...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 7, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

The tricky thing about asthma
In mid-January, health headlines announced that nearly one-third of adults diagnosed with asthma don’t actually have this respiratory condition at all. This announcement appeared everywhere from Fox News Health to the Chicago Tribune. As a primary care doc, a medical writer, and an asthma sufferer, I was very skeptical of these dramatic announcements, and with good reason. An editorial that accompanied this study provides important perspective that suggests the news headlines were exaggerated and misleading. Taking a closer look at the study Let’s talk about the study, which is a good one, and has merit. Canadi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 6, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Asthma and Allergies Lung disease Source Type: blogs

Sharpen your cooking skills and improve your diet (and even your social life)
When I was in college, my cooking skills were limited to a giant skillet of Tuna Helper. Meals were chosen by how quick and how cheap. Nutrition? Never heard of it. My outlook on cooking has changed since those days, and I now realize that despite my still limited culinary know-how, in the kitchen I have all the tools to transform my health. “Cooking is easier than people think,” says Dr. David Eisenberg of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It is more fun and cheaper than eating out. And no matter your ability, anyone can learn to do it.” The health of co...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 3, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Some medications don ’ t help back pain as much as we thought
This study found that NSAIDs don’t work as well for back pain as many people think. However, it is not true (as stated by some headlines about this study) that NSAIDs were not effective at all. Some people did improve with these medications. The trick is figuring out in advance who is most likely to get better with NSAID therapy. We can’t yet do that very well. Here’s my suggestion: if you take an NSAID for spinal pain (or just about any other pain), keep track of how you’re feeling. A “pain diary” is one way to do this. If you aren’t clearly better in a week or two, talk to your d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 2, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Back Pain Drugs and Supplements Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Weight loss that works: A true story
Many people struggle with being overweight, or even obese. It’s a common topic at office visits. As a doctor, I know that excess weight is associated with potentially serious health conditions —  high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol —  not to mention sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, and back and knee problems, among other things. Patients may also worry about their appearance. Whether a patient is at risk for medical problems due to being overweight, or if it’s a personal health goal, then it’s my job to provide counseling. In my experience, most patients consider...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 1, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Parents: As more states legalize marijuana, here ’ s what you need to know and do
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Recreational use of marijuana was just legalized here in my home state of Massachusetts, and this has led to a lot of interesting conversations as legislators, regulators, and businesspeople try to figure out how to best implement this change. But the most important conversations about marijuana, in Massachusetts and throughout the country, may be between parents and children. This week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a clinical report to help pediatricians and parents talk to teens about marijuana. As it has become legalized in more states, research has shown that fewer tee...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Addiction Children's Health Drugs and Supplements Parenting Source Type: blogs

Parents: As more states legalize marijuana here ’ s what you need to know and do
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Recreational use of marijuana was just legalized here in my home state of Massachusetts, and this has led to a lot of interesting conversations as legislators, regulators, and businesspeople try to figure out how to best implement this change. But the most important conversations about marijuana, in Massachusetts and throughout the country, may be between parents and children. This week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a clinical report to help pediatricians and parents talk to teens about marijuana. As it has become legalized in more states, research has shown that fewer tee...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Addiction Children's Health Drugs and Supplements Parenting Source Type: blogs

Bad bug, no drugs: The real end of antibiotics?
Follow me on Twitter @JohnRossMD In September 2016, a woman in her 70s died of septic shock in Reno, Nevada, from an infection which was fully resistant to 26 different antibiotics. She had spent much of the previous two years in India, where she was treated for a hip fracture. The hip became infected, and after several more hospital stays, she returned to her home in Nevada. Within weeks, she was desperately ill, and back in a hospital in Reno. A sample from her hip wound revealed a strain of the bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae which was not sensitive to any antibiotics. It was even resistant to a drug called colistin, an ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

Finding the tick in time could save you from Lyme!
“Doesn’t it typically happen during the summer?” asked a worried lady that had walked into my clinic in November with a growing circular rash on her wrist. She was referring, of course, to Lyme disease, that scourge of outdoor enthusiasts. While the peak season for Lyme disease is indeed summer, the ticks that transmit it are active March through December. And, while this may be off-season for the ticks, it is a good time to catch up on how to stay safe in the not-so-distant spring. What is Lyme disease, and how do you treat it? Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which is sp...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 24, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG Tags: Health Infectious diseases Prevention Source Type: blogs

Home sleep studies may help identify sleep apnea
What if I need a sleep study? If you are one of the approximately 35% of Americans who snore, perhaps this has crossed your mind. You have read on the internet or watched a newscast about sleep apnea, a condition associated with an increase in heart attack and stroke risk. Loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and observed pauses in breathing at night are the most frequent symptoms. A sleep study is necessary to make the diagnosis. To many people, the thought of a sleep study raises visions of being restrained in a bed with wires attached everywhere and complete strangers watching you, in other words, “Big Broth...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 23, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Stuart Quan, MD Tags: Health Sleep Source Type: blogs

Unlocking the lock jaw: Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunction
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most heavily utilized and underappreciated joints in the human body. Mechanically, the TMJ is what allows you to open and close your mouth, and to a lesser extent, extend and move your jaw from side to side. Functionally, it facilitates eating, talking, and facial expressions. Without a TMJ, McGruff the crime dog would not be able to “Take a bite out of crime,” and Jaws would have never become a savage predatory superstar of the deep blue sea.  Just kidding. We all know from “Shark Week” that sharks do not actually have a TMJ, but you get the idea...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS Tags: Dental Health Headache Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Parents: How to manage injuries at home —and when you need to go to the doctor
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire It’s a fact of life: kids get hurt. We do everything we can to keep them safe, but shy of sticking them in bubbles, which would be a bad idea for all sorts of reasons, the reality is that injuries happen. Luckily, most injuries can be managed quite well at home. Here are some tips on how to do that — and how to know when you shouldn’t. Cuts and scrapes The vast majority of cuts and scrapes just need a good washing (plain old soap and water is fine — use a washcloth if there is any dirt or other debris) and a clean bandage. Change the bandage daily with a washing (takin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 21, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Injuries Pregnancy Safety Source Type: blogs

A primary care doctor delves into the opioid epidemic
Our nephew Christopher died of a heroin overdose in October 2013.1 It had started with pain pills and experimentation, and was fueled by deep grief.2 He was charismatic, lovable, a favorite uncle, and a hero to all the children in his life. His death too young was a huge loss to our family. I have always felt that I didn’t do enough to help prevent it, and perhaps, in a way, even contributed. Good intentions with unintended consequences My medical training took me through several big-city hospitals where addiction and its consequences were commonplace. Throughout all of it, great emphasis was placed on recognizing &l...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Source Type: blogs

New imaging technique may help some men avoid prostate biopsy
Men who have high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in their blood face troubling uncertainties. While it’s true that prostate cancer can elevate PSA, so can other conditions, including the benign prostate enlargement that afflicts many men as they get older. PSA levels also vary normally from one man to the next, and some men have unusually high levels even when they’re perfectly healthy. To rule out cancer, doctors might recommend a biopsy. Yet prostate biopsies pose risks of infection, and they can also miss cancer in men who truly have the disease. Most prostate biopsies are guided by transrectal ul...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 17, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Cancer Men's Health Prostate Health Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

The underappreciated health benefits of being a weekend warrior
This study also supports current exercise guidelines that recommend 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week or 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. So, what does this mean for you? In my view, this study is important. In the past, weekend warriors were encouraged to change their ways lest they wind up injured. And it has long been assumed that you can’t get much benefit by exercising just once or twice a week rather than daily or most days of the week. This new study should make us rethink that assumption. If you’re a weekend warrior, the results of this study should be reassuring. But I see at...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 16, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Injuries Source Type: blogs

Charles Darwin, Chagas ’ disease, and the killer kissing bugs of California
Follow me on Twitter @JohnRossMD It is possible, although very unusual, to get Chagas’ disease in the United States. The medical journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases recently reported a case of Chagas’ disease acquired in California. A healthy 19-year-old student from the greater Los Angeles area donated blood, and tested positive for Chagas’ disease. (Blood donations in the United States are routinely screened for Chagas’ disease, as it is estimated that 300,000 Latin American immigrants in the United States have been infected with Trypanosoma cruzi.) He had never traveled to Latin America; ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

2017 update to the immunization schedule for kids
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) update the recommendations for immunizing children from birth to 18 years. This past week, the latest changes were published. The changes are usually small, and this year is no exception. But they are important — and they are a sign of how these organizations, and all the scientists who study immunization, take immunization effectiveness and safety very seriously. There is ongoing research to be sure that vaccines do everything we want them to do. As that research is done, disco...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 14, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Parenting Prevention Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Snored to death: The symptoms and dangers of untreated sleep apnea
Sleep is a critically important component of human existence. On average, humans spend about 25%-35% of their lives sleeping. Sleep allows both the body and brain to rest and recover from the stress of daily life. As such, trouble sleeping can cause a range of health problems, and if left untreated dire consequences. Longing for more sleep There is a common misconception that there is an exact amount of sleep that the body requires. The necessary hours of sleep can vary, as some people can require as little as five hours or as much as nine hours to function optimally. In addition, too little or too much sleep can cause pro...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS Tags: Health Prevention Sleep Source Type: blogs

The fix for dry eyes
There are two unopened boxes of contact lenses in the cabinet under my sink. I’m not using those tiny disposables anymore; wearing them makes my eyes so dry they feel like they’re being sucked out of their sockets. Actually, it’s not the contacts — those have many benefits, and I’ve worn some version of them since my teens. But as a middle-ager now, the contacts aggravate a condition I have that’s apparently pretty common: dry eye syndrome. “I’d say at least a quarter of my patients have some degree of complaint about dryness,” says Dr. Matthew Gardiner, an ophthalmolog...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 10, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Eye Health Worplace health Source Type: blogs

Confessions of a breakfast skipper
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling As a doctor and a parent, I feel a certain obligation to model healthy behaviors. Even if I were neither, I’d do my best to make healthy choices. And, mostly, I do. I exercise regularly, I pay attention to what I eat and I try to eat reasonable portions of healthy foods. But I regularly break a cardinal rule of healthy living: I skip breakfast. Is that so wrong? Apparently, most people think so. Ask anyone and my guess is that you’ll hear this a lot: “Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” And it makes some sense. When you get up in t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 9, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Postpartum depression: The worst kept secret
Having a baby is one of the happiest times in life, but it can also be one of the saddest. For most new mothers, the first several days after having a baby is an emotional roller coaster ride. Thrilling moments of happiness and joy are abruptly interrupted by a plunge into moments of depressive symptoms including weeping, anxiety, anger, and sadness. These “baby blues” usually peak in the first two to five days after delivery, and in most women, go away as quickly as they came. Except sometimes they don’t go away. For some women, depressive symptoms continue well past those first two weeks or develop...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrea Chisholm, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Family Planning and Pregnancy Parenting Screening Women's Health Source Type: blogs

The 4 symptoms that mean your child must stay home from school or daycare
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire It’s a decision every parent faces regularly: whether or not to keep a sick child home from school. It would seem like a simple decision. If your child is sick, of course they shouldn’t go to school or daycare. But besides the fact that it’s not practical to keep a child home for every sniffle, keeping a child home can be a real hardship for working parents — and it means that a child is missing out on learning and other activities. So it’s a decision that should be made as wisely as possible. Sometimes the decision is clear. Your kid looks awful and you can&rsqu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 7, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs