Recognizing and treating depression may help improve heart health
Depression affects about 20% of Americans in their lifetime, and is one of the leading causes of disability. The rates of depression are even higher in those with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Depression affects 38% of patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and the risk of depression is three times as high in patients who have experienced a heart attack compared with the general population. Depression also makes it much more likely that CVD patients will be readmitted to the hospital and report heart-related symptoms. Yet much of the time, symptoms of depression in those with CVD go unrecognized. And as ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 2, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Ranitidine (Zantac) recall expanded, many questions remain
Update: On April 1, 2020, the FDA requested manufacturers to withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) ranitidine drugs (Zantac, others) from the market immediately, due to the presence of a contaminant known as N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Although the FDA did not observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples they tested, they have determined that the impurity in some ranitidine products increases over time and when stored at higher than room temperatures. As a result of this recall, ranitidine products will no longer be available for prescription or OTC use in the US. The FDA is also advising co...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 2, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Joshua Gagne, PharmD, ScD Tags: Digestive Disorders Drugs and Supplements Source Type: blogs

COVID-19: If you ’re older and have chronic health problems, read this
By now, you’ve probably heard this warning about the new coronavirus pandemic: those who are older and have a chronic medical condition are at increased risk for severe disease and death. If you fall into this category, here’s important information about the coronavirus outbreak tailored to you. If you look at the data, older adults and those with chronic health problems who get COVID-19 are more likely to require hospitalization and admission to an intensive care unit. And so far in the US, 80% of the deaths from the new coronavirus virus have occurred in people who were older. But this raises a number of ques...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 1, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Infectious diseases Men's Health Prevention Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Older adults and medical marijuana: Reduced stigma and increased use
This study is consistent with other research, as well as with reports from physicians who recommend cannabis in their daily practices. What might be behind this trend? A confluence of factors seems to be responsible, including the decrease in stigma associated with cannabis use and the increased interest in the use of medical marijuana by older patients. Stigma is a complicated issue, but most would agree that the stigma associated with cannabis use is lessening, especially for medical cannabis. In a recent poll, 94% of Americans voiced support for legal access to medical marijuana, and most states have approved some form ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 1, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Marijuana Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Is it safe to see the pediatrician for vaccines and medical visits?
We’re tackling a few urgent questions from parents in this time of coronavirus and COVID-19. Are you wondering if babies and children should continue to have vaccines on schedule? Thinking about how to manage regular medical appointments, and which situations require in-person visits to a pediatric practice? Read on. Should parents take babies for initial vaccines right now? What about toddlers and older children who are due for vaccines? The answer to this question is going to depend on many factors, including what your doctor’s office is offering. As with all health care decisions, it comes down to weighing r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 31, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Health care Parenting Vaccines Source Type: blogs

OK, boomer: You ’re not the only one who needs testing for hepatitis C
It turns out that many more people than just boomers can benefit from testing for hepatitis C, a viral infection of the liver that often causes no symptoms. If you’re a member of the baby-boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964), your doctor may have already recommended the test. But those born before or after those years may not have known about the test unless they had a risk factor for hepatitis C, such as a history of intravenous drug use. A new guideline is changing this approach. Why the different recommendations for baby boomers? In 2012–2013, the CDC and the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 31, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Infectious diseases Men's Health Sexual Conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Have a headache? The top 7 triggers
“Headaches aren’t welcome here” — that’s the sign you have hanging on your brain’s front door, but the pain is barging right in. You can chalk it up to stress from world events or something you ate or drank, and you might be right. But there are a number of common triggers for migraines, tension headaches, or cluster headaches. The faster you identify them, the quicker you can boot headache pain off the property. What are the triggers for your headaches? Take note of your circumstances when a headache starts. Keep a diary to track the day, time, symptoms, and circumstances surrounding th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 30, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Headache Health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Strategies to promote better sleep in these uncertain times
These are unprecedented times. Given the real and tangible threat of the coronavirus pandemic on personal, community, and societal levels, it is normal to experience anxiety and sleep problems. Sleep is a reversible state marked by a loss of consciousness to our surroundings, and as members of the animal kingdom, our brains have evolved to respond to dangers by increasing vigilance and attention — in other words, our brains are protecting us, and by doing so it’s harder for us to ignore our surroundings. Despite the threat of the coronavirus and its rapid and pervasive disruption to our daily lives, many of us ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Suzanne Bertisch, MD, MPH Tags: Health Sleep Stress Source Type: blogs

Thinning hair in women: Why it happens and what helps
Many people think of hair loss as a male problem, but it also affects at least a third of women. But unlike men, women typically experience thinning hair without going bald, and there can be a number of different underlying causes for the problem. “Some are associated with inflammation in the body. Some are female-pattern hair loss,” says Dr. Deborah Scott, assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Hair Loss Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But the good news is that in many cases this hair loss can be stabilized with treatment, and it may be reversible. Whe...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Skin and Hair Care Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Coping with the coronavirus pandemic for people with anxiety disorders
These days, we all have to accept the anxiety inherent in living in the time of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19. If there was a way to dispel all anxious feelings, I’d tell you, but there isn’t. The one exception might be someone who could summon such a degree of denial that they carry on as if everything was normal. And that, as I’m sure you can see, would prove to be very, very unwise. Anxiety helps us prepare to respond in a more adaptive and healthy way. Some people find it possible to tolerate some degree of discomfort and can manage their anxiety in a healthy manner. Often that’s because...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 26, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Sharp, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Infectious diseases Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Why follow a vaccine schedule?
Right now, many people are hoping for a vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus. While that’s still on the horizon, new research suggests that families who do vaccinate their children may not be following the recommended schedule. Vaccines are given on a schedule for a reason: to protect children from vaccine-preventable disease. Experts designed the schedule so that children get protection when they need it — and the doses are timed so the vaccine itself can have the best effect. When parents don’t follow the schedule, their children may not be protected. And yet, many parents do not follow the sc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 26, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Apps to keep us connected in a time of social distancing
If you’re wondering how to stay in touch during this time of social distancing, take heart: thanks to technology, chatting with and even seeing others has never been easier — and frankly, it’s never been more important. “Isolation cuts against our natural impulses that have evolved to make us fitter, healthier, and safer. That is probably why it can be so uncomfortable to be isolated for extended periods of time,” says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Where to start in getting connected There are lots of tools to connect with others via sma...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 25, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Health Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: What ’s being cleansed in a detox cleanse?
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot from patients and friends who are enthusiastically pursuing a “whole body cleanse” or “colon cleanse,” or a “detoxification cleanse.” And I’ve seen ads about these cleanses promising a number of health benefits, based on the general principle that every so often it’s a good idea to rid yourself of toxins that are undoubtedly accumulating within you. Spring cleaning for your body? The idea goes back centuries. And sure, cleansing — or cleaning — is clear enough for bathing or mopping a floor. But how does a cleanse work in the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 25, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Can telehealth help flatten the curve of COVID-19?
Telehealth, the virtual care platforms that allow health care professionals and patients to meet by phone or video chat, seems tailor-made for this moment in time. Also known as telemedicine or digital health, it’s often touted as a convenience for patients who are busy or far away, or when travel isn’t feasible due to severe weather or an urgent condition like a stroke. The current crisis makes virtual care solutions like telehealth an indispensable tool as COVID-19 spreads across US communities. As director of the Center for TeleHealth at Massachusetts General Hospital and vice president of virtual care for P...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 24, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lee H. Schwamm, MD Tags: Health Health care Infectious diseases Managing your health care Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Opportunities for growth: Transitions for youth with autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong condition that affects a person’s social and communication skills. People with ASD can have repetitive behaviors, a narrow range of interests, a strong preference for sameness, and sensory processing differences. The number of children diagnosed with ASD has increased dramatically over the past several decades. Because of this, growing numbers of youth with ASD are now making the developmental transition from adolescence to adulthood. This transition is marked by changes in many areas of life, including new healthcare providers, educational or occupational settings, and li...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 24, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robyn Thom, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Health care disparities Mental Health Neurological conditions Parenting Source Type: blogs

What one study from China tells us about COVID-19 and children
As we try to predict what will happen here in the US with COVID-19, it’s natural to look at the experience in China, where the epidemic began. In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, we learn about how the pandemic affected children. What this study tells us The study looked at information about 2,143 children with COVID-19 infections that were reported to China’s Centers for Disease Control from January 16 to February 8 of this year. Of the infections, about a third were confirmed with a laboratory test for COVID-19. The others were diagnosed based on symptoms and the results of other tests, such as x-...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 23, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Infectious diseases Parenting Prevention Source Type: blogs

Skin tag removal: Optional but effective
Skin tags are common, benign skin growths that hang from the surface of the skin on a thin piece of tissue called a stalk. They are made up of many components, including fat, collagen fibers, and sometimes nerve cells and small blood vessels. It’s possible that these collagen fibers and blood vessels become wrapped up inside a layer of skin, leading to the formation of a skin tag. The medical term for a skin tag is acrochordon, and they can also be referred to as soft fibromas or fibroepithelial polyps. Skin tags are frequently found in areas of friction on the skin, such as the neck, underarms, under the breast...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 23, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kristina Liu, MD, MHS Tags: Cosmetic surgery Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Grandparenting in the time of COVID-19
Baby boomers are used to embracing grandparenting head on. Some of us have moved across the country to be with our grandchildren; others regularly bridge distances via FaceTime and Skype; many take pride in kayaking, rock climbing, jumping on trampolines, and doing yoga with our grandkids. Before the new coronavirus and COVID-19 came along, many grandparents were confident we could do it all. The threats posed by this new virus are humbling and present new conundrums. As schools and daycares temporarily close, many grandparents are wrestling with questions surrounding whether they can safely spend time with their grandchil...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 21, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Health Healthy Aging Infectious diseases Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: Are nutritional drinks actually good for you?
I first heard of nutritional drinks in the 1980s, early in my medical training. They were recommended for people struggling to maintain a healthy weight, often due to loss of appetite, cancer, or swallowing problems. Since then, nutritional supplement drinks like Boost and Ensure have gone mainstream. Their widespread, primetime advertising aimed at a much broader audience has proven highly effective. The market for nutritional drinks is now worth many billions of dollars. In 2019, Ensure sales alone totaled nearly $400 million. When you watch ads for nutritional drinks, do you wonder if you should start drinking them? Wil...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 20, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Eating Nutrition Vitamins and supplements Source Type: blogs

Is there any good news about the coronavirus pandemic?
In the midst of the fear, worry, and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, each day seems to bring news that’s worse than the day before. The cause for concern is justified. But, as in most major disasters, tragedies, and public health threats, there are reasons for hope, and even optimism. They may be hard to see, even if you’re a “cup-half-full” or “it could always be worse” type of person. But they are there. Here are a few. The good news about the coronavirus pandemic Most people with COVID-19 recover. Estimates now suggest that 99% of people infected with the virus that...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 19, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Infectious diseases Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

Acoustic neuroma: A slow-growing tumor that requires specialized care
An acoustic neuroma, also known as a vestibular schwannoma, is a tumor of the hearing and balance nerve complex in the brain. They are rare, and account for less than 10% of all brain tumors. The tumor involves an area of the brain and ear called the lateral skull base; an acoustic neuroma can range in size, and it can cause a variety of troublesome symptoms related to hearing and balance. It is important to note that although the diagnosis of a brain tumor can cause significant anxiety, acoustic neuromas are noncancerous and grow very slowly. This means that immediate treatment is rarely necessary. What are the most commo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 19, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Naples, MD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Ear, nose, and throat Hearing Loss Radiation Source Type: blogs

School closed due to the coronavirus? Tips to help parents cope
Although the precautionary measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus and COVID-19 are efforts to protect the community, the notification of your child’s school closing may have landed like one of your worst nightmares. Children thrive on routine and predictability, both of which are in short supply right now for families across the country and well beyond. Despite the uncertainty in the community, you still can try to foster an environment that includes as much routine and predictability as possible. Below are some tips to manage children’s increased time at home. Validate first Before offering some...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 18, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs

What works best for treating depression and anxiety in dementia?
It’s 3 pm on a warm, sunny Saturday. For the past 20 years your mother would dress in her finest clothes and walk to her neighbor’s house for her weekly bridge game. For the past month, however, she has not been interested in playing bridge. Although she sometimes required prompting (as well as reminders to brush her hair), she usually returned from these games cheerful. Her indifference this month is new. Your mother received the diagnosis of mild Alzheimer’s disease last year. Although visibly frustrated at times, especially when she cannot think of the right word or find her pocketbook, she seemed to e...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 18, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Behavioral Health Caregiving Healthy Aging Mental Health Source Type: blogs

How to not practice emotional distancing during social distancing
We’re living in strange times. As we grapple with new and dismaying terms — flattening the curve, social distancing — let me ask a rhetorical question. When you’re “with yourself” do you feel alone? I do sometimes. And then I try to remember three things: the differences between being alone and being lonely, the deep ties that bind us, and the connection I feel when practicing kindness or gratitude. Being alone versus being lonely Take a moment to consider these questions: What might time alone offer? Is there something about being alone that you fear? Because being by yourself really o...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 17, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Sharp, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Men's Health Mental Health Relationships Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Why the human heart thrives with exercise
How did the human heart adapt during our evolution as a species? To explore that question, Harvard cardiologist Dr. Aaron Baggish led a unique study that compared the hearts of African great apes, Mexican farmers, and American athletes. But the findings also have a practical message. “They reinforce the importance of regular brisk walking or jogging throughout life to stay healthy as you age,” says Dr. Baggish, director of the cardiac performance lab at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. The study included great apes (gorillas and chimpanzees) and four different groups of men: inactive men, endu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 17, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Heart Health Men's Health Source Type: blogs

Pregnant and worried about the new coronavirus?
COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, has rapidly spread globally. The World Health Organization recently labeled COVID-19 a pandemic. Many of my pregnant patients have expressed concerns, both for themselves and their babies, about the impact of COVID-19 on their health. To answer often-asked questions about pregnancy and the new coronavirus, I’ve teamed up with my husband, an infectious disease specialist and internist. Together, we reviewed the extremely limited data available to provide evidence-based responses below. Pregnancy and the new coronavirus As you probably know, the virus spreads through r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 16, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Huma Farid, MD Tags: Parenting Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Go figure: A healthy eating approach helps people be healthy
This study was not perfect. You could argue, as these authors do, that the fact that participants chose their preferred diet is a good thing, as it could theoretically improve adherence. However, it also resulted in very different-sized groups to start with. The varying adherence and exercise option choices were adjusted for as well as possible. And the study relied heavily on self-reporting, which is always iffy. Healthy eating patterns have benefits beyond weight loss But we can still learn a great deal here. The Mediterranean approach to eating (which can be easily modified to suit any country or cultural food preferenc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 16, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Cooking and recipes Diet and Weight Loss Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

How to talk to teens about the new coronavirus
We seem to be stuck in a nonstop news cycle about the new coronavirus that is causing an illness called COVID-19. Many parents are understandably sharing concerns, too — at least among friends and families. It’s also possible that teenagers are talking to their own friends and surfing the web and social media sites to gather information, including potential misinformation. How can you make sure teenagers are informed just enough without feeling overwhelmed, yet also have accurate information? Your teen already may be asking many questions. Even if not, it might be a good idea to find out what your teen has hear...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 14, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Adolescent health Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs

Time to redefine normal body temperature?
In this study, researchers analyzed temperature recordings from three periods of time over 157 years: 1860–1940: A mix of armpit and oral temperatures of nearly 24,000 veterans of the Civil War were measured. 1971–1975: Oral temperatures of more than 15,000 people from a large population study (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) were analyzed. 2007–2017: Oral temperatures of more than 150,000 people in another large research project (the Stanford Translational Research Integrated Database Environment) were reviewed. During the nearly 160 years covered by the analysis, the average oral...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 13, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

The skinny on freezing fat
There has been a lot of buzz lately about freezing — and no, we don’t mean winter temperatures in Boston. Freezing fat, known medically as cryolipolysis, is one of the hottest trends in noninvasive body sculpting — that is, losing pockets of fat without needles, knives, or real downtime. The basics of body fat Let’s start with the basics. Not all fat is created equal. We have two distinct types of fat in our bodies: subcutaneous fat (the kind that may roll over the waistband of your pants) and visceral fat (the stuff that lines your organs and is associated with diabetes and heart disease). From her...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 12, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Neera Nathan, MD, MSHS Tags: Cosmetic surgery Source Type: blogs

Coping with coronavirus anxiety
Worrying about all the news on the new coronavirus and the illness it causes? Well, that makes good sense. If you’re wondering how to cope with anxious feelings that are surfacing, this blog post can guide you through steps that may be helpful to many people. If you often struggle with anxiety, worries about your health, or obsessive thoughts and actions, you might need additional assistance, as I’ll explain in a later post. Steady yourself around worries about the new coronavirus Knowing how to manage your own anxiety always takes a little thought. Ask and answer these questions: What typically happens to you...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 12, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Sharp, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Infectious diseases Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Peanut allergy: A new medicine for children may offer protection
Of all food allergies, which affect between 5% and 8% of US children, peanut allergy is the one most likely to cause anaphylaxis, a serious type of allergic reaction. For a child with a peanut allergy, eating one peanut can literally be fatal. “When you have an allergy,” says Andrew MacGinnitie, MD, PhD, clinical director of the division of immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital, “your body sees the thing you are allergic to as dangerous. So your immune system tries to protect you by causing hives, vomiting, and other symptoms.” The body does this by releasing histamine and other chemicals t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 11, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Allergies Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

The BEEP program: Keep your balance
Balance is a skill you don’t think about until you really need it — like when you lose your footing and have to perform an exotic improv dance to keep from hitting the ground. But don’t wait until your sense of balance fails before you give it proper attention. As we age, balance can sharply decline, often with little warning. An exercise program called BEEP can help. How you keep your balance While keeping proper balance may seem simple, it involves a complex system with many moveable parts. Whenever you move, your eyes and brain process information about your surroundings. Your feet detect changes in th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 10, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

The scoop on protein powder
Eating enough protein is not just for athletes or would-be Schwarzenegger types. It is necessary for a healthy immune system and required for organs like your heart, brain, and skin to function properly. The nutrient is also touted for its ability to help control appetite and enhance muscle growth. How much protein you need typically depends on your exercise routine, age, and health. And whether to supplement protein intake with a protein powder has become a common query. A closer look at protein powder To make such supplements, protein is extracted from animal or plant-based sources, which range from cow’s milk and ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 9, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Drugs and Supplements Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

How to talk to children about the coronavirus
Every news outlet seems to be talking nonstop about the new coronavirus, which is causing an illness called COVID-19. Many parents understandably are sharing concerns, too — at least among friends and families. Even at school, children are hearing about this new virus and registering that some adults seem worried. Given all the discussion about coronavirus, your children might have heard about it and have questions for you. Below are some tips on how to respond to their questions. A separate post will address tips for talking with teens about the questions they might have. Provide just enough information about the co...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 7, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Can stress really make hair (or fur?) turn gray?
It seems like common knowledge or conventional wisdom: stress can turn your hair gray. Whether it’s the kids, your spouse, your job, or something else, people with gray hair have been blaming stress for centuries. The example of Barack Obama is often cited: his hair was quite dark when first elected president, but by the time he’d completed his second term, it was much grayer. Clearly it was the stress of his job, right? Not so fast! As I wrote in a previous post, the notion that stress makes you gray may be largely myth. Certainly, there are factors other than stress that lead to graying, not the least of whic...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 6, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Men's Health Stress Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Surrogacy: Who decides to become a gestational carrier?
Why would a woman decide to carry another woman’s baby? One answer is that there are times in life when a loved one is in need of help. This happens when a sister or a cousin or a close friend has suffered repeated miscarriages, or had an illness or surgery that made pregnancy unlikely. In these instances, it is not unusual for a family member or friend to step forward, saying, “I’ll carry your baby.” But what of the woman who decides that she wants to carry for strangers? What prompts her to seek, usually through an agency, an individual or couple in need of a gestational carrier? Surrogate or gest...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 5, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Family Planning and Pregnancy Fertility Infertility Parenting Source Type: blogs

Can short bouts of running lengthen lives?
Working hard and feeling like you don’t have any time to exercise? Well, the reality is we all have time. If you’re feeling bad about not exercising enough or at all, some exciting data crunching from a recent British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) analysis of research on running and mortality rates could supply the motivation you need. What amount of running is better than no running? An abundance of research supports the health benefits of exercise. In a blog post last year, I wrote about a study in JAMA that took the first look at the effect of various cardiorespiratory fitness levels on longevity. That s...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 4, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marwa A. Ahmed, MD, MS Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Pain and neuromodulation: What ’s all the “buzz” about?
Chronic pain is an enigma for both pain doctors and their patients: difficult to understand (as everyone’s pain is different), challenging to treat effectively, and frustrating to live with. Desperate patients sometimes turn to drastic and irreversible surgical procedures, like amputating nerves to relieve pain, and unfortunately even those procedures may fail to provide the hoped-for results. Fortunately there have been great strides in research related to pain perception and our nervous system’s reaction to various pain treatments, and we’ve been able to develop novel devices that provide many people wi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 3, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Shafik Boyaji, MD Tags: Back Pain Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Cutting down on alcohol helps if you have atrial fibrillation
In medical school, there are lots of cutesy names that help us learn and remember things. “Holiday heart” is one of these — it reminds doctors-in-training that binge drinking alcohol can lead to an episode of atrial fibrillation (afib). The association is a real one; I have met a number of patients who suffered an unfortunate introduction to afib courtesy of a night (or weekend) of heavy alcohol intake. When that happens, we tell patients to avoid future binge drinking, as excessive drinking could cause them to have recurrent episodes of afib. Alcohol: A known risk for afib The association between alcohol...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 2, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Amy Leigh Miller, MD, PhD Tags: Alcohol Heart Health Source Type: blogs

The role of our minds in the avoidance of falls
A few years ago, my grandmother suffered a fall and broke her hip. She has never fully recovered and is now constantly fearful of falling, and has significantly limited her activities to prevent a fall from ever happening again. As a scientist focused on translational research in mobility and falls in older adults, of course I asked her how she fell. She stated that she was standing in the kitchen and reading a recipe when the phone rang. When she turned and started to walk over to the phone, her feet “weren’t in the right spot.” She fell sideways and unfortunately, her hip was unable to absorb the impact...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 28, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Brad Manor, PhD Tags: Bones and joints Caregiving Healthy Aging Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

What ’s new with the Nutrition Facts label?
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) mandated nutrition labeling on most packaged foods. These include canned and frozen foods, breads, cereals, desserts, snacks, beverages, and a variety of other foods that line the aisles of grocery stores. Food labels — officially called Nutrition Facts labels — are intended to help consumers choose healthy foods. It is the FDA’s responsibility to make sure that foods are properly labeled. Over the years there have been many changes to the initial law, and to the label. The newest version of the food label rolled out on January 1, 2020 for larger foo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Nutrition Source Type: blogs

As coronavirus spreads, many questions and some answers
The rapid spread of the coronavirus now called COVID-19 has sparked alarm worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency, and many countries are grappling with a rise in confirmed cases. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people to be prepared for disruptions to daily life that will be necessary if the coronavirus spreads within communities. Below, we’re responding to a number of questions about COVID-19 raised by Harvard Health Blog readers. We hope to add further questions and update answers as reliable information becomes available. Do...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Todd Ellerin, MD Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

New study compares long-term side effects from different prostate cancer treatments
Prostate cancer therapies are improving over time. But how do the long-term side effects from the various options available today compare? Results from a newly published study are providing some valuable insights. Investigators at Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center spent five years tracking the sexual, bowel, urinary, and hormonal status of nearly 2,000 men after they had been treated for prostate cancer, or monitored with active surveillance (which entails checking the tumor periodically and treating it only if it begins to grow). Cancers in all the men were still confined to the p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Dopamine fasting: Misunderstanding science spawns a maladaptive fad
The dopamine fast, created by California psychiatrist Dr. Cameron Sepah, has very little to do with either fasting or dopamine. As Sepah told the New York Times, “Dopamine is just a mechanism that explains how addictions can become reinforced, and makes for a catchy title. The title’s not to be taken literally.” Unfortunately, with such a snazzy name, who could resist? This is where the misconceptions begin. What’s the thinking behind a dopamine fast? What Sepah intended with his dopamine fast was a method, based on cognitive behavioral therapy, by which we can become less dominated by the unhealthy...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 26, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Health trends Mind body medicine Stress Source Type: blogs

Co-parent adoption: A critical protection for LGBTQ+ families
Every child deserves to be part of a loving family, and establishing a secure legal relationship known as parentage between parents and their children is critical to the well-being of all families. This provides stability and security for children and allows parents to care for their children, including making important medical decisions. For LGBTQ+ families, co-parent adoption ensures that parents have a secure legal relationship to their child. What is co-parent adoption? Co-parent adoption (also called “second parent adoption”) is the legal process of adopting a partner’s biological or legal child, whe...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 25, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sabra L. Katz-Wise, PhD Tags: Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Puffing away sadness
Ask a smoker what they get out of cigarettes and they are likely to talk about pleasure, contentment, and an overall good feeling. Nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, is a stimulant. Used in low doses like those delivered by combustible cigarettes, stimulants activate the nervous system, resulting in enhanced arousal and alertness. Nicotine binding in the limbic system — the part of the brain that houses the pleasure and reward center — releases dopamine, resulting in feelings of euphoria. These effects combine to give smokers a boost in their mood. In this context, new research from a team at Harvar...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 24, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sharon Levy, MD, MPH Tags: Addiction Adolescent health Mental Health Smoking cessation Source Type: blogs

Hands or feet asleep? What to do
We’ve all been there. You awaken in the morning and one of your hands is completely numb. It feels dead, heavy, and simply won’t work. Perhaps there’s some tingling as well. Or, you arise from a long dinner or movie and one of your legs feels that way. Then over a few minutes — maybe you shook your hands, stamped your foot — everything goes back to normal. Until the next time. The first time this happened, it might have been worrisome. Now that you know it’s temporary and happens to everyone, it may not bother you. But did you ever wonder why in the world this happens? Read on! When the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 21, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

C. difficile (C. diff): An urgent threat
Clostridioides (previously Clostridium) difficile (C. diff) is the most common cause of diarrhea among hospitalized patients and the most commonly reported bacteria causing infections in hospitals. In a 2019 report, the CDC referred to C. diff as “an urgent threat.” Who is most at risk? C. diff infection (CDI) occurs more commonly following antibiotic therapy or hospitalization, and among older adults or patients with weakened immune responses. In 2002, an epidemic strain of C. diff emerged, causing more severe disease with inflammation of the colon (colitis) and an increase in deaths. This strain adheres bette...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 20, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lou Ann Bruno-Murtha, DO Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Infectious diseases Prevention Source Type: blogs