Menopause and insomnia: Could a low-GI diet help?
Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are extremely common, especially in women after menopause. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, sleep disturbance varies from 16% to 42% before menopause, from 39% to 47% during perimenopause, and from 35% to 60% after menopause. Insomnia is a serious medical problem defined by frequent difficulty falling or staying asleep that impacts a person’s life in a negative way. Hormone changes around menopause can lead to sleep problems for many reasons, including changing sleep requirements, increased irritability, and hot flashes. What menopausal women eat could have...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 17, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Fatigue Food as medicine Healthy Eating Menopause Nutrition Sleep Source Type: blogs

Diabetic retinopathy: Understanding diabetes-related eye disease and vision loss
Over 30 million people in the United States live with diabetes, and approximately 7.7 million people have diabetic retinopathy, making it the most common cause of vision loss in working-aged adults. The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy has increased significantly over the past 20 years, due to the rise in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes. How does diabetes affect the retina? The retina is the light-sensing component located in the back of the eye. It is composed of blood vessels, nerve cells (neurons), and specialized cells called photoreceptors that are involved in directly sensing light. The ability of the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 16, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Leo Kim, MD, PhD Tags: Diabetes Eye Health Source Type: blogs

Coming clean: Your anesthesiologist needs to know about marijuana use before surgery
Given the increasing prevalence and legalization of marijuana, many patients have come to think that marijuana use is not worth mentioning to their physicians. After all, they reason, I would not necessarily tell my doctor that I had a glass of wine last night, so why should I disclose that I smoked marijuana yesterday? Unfortunately, this reasoning is flawed. Because marijuana has a variety of effects on the body and on anesthesia medicines, it is crucial that anyone undergoing a preoperative evaluation disclose their marijuana use. Don’t worry that your anesthesiologist is judging you. That’s not our job! Our...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 15, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David Hepner, MD, MPH Tags: Health care Marijuana Prevention Safety Surgery Source Type: blogs

What to do when your child swears
Young children are constantly reminding parents that they pay attention. They’ll do this in surprising ways, offering up new thoughts, actions, and especially words. Sometimes the choices are funny and impressive. Other times, what comes out of the mouths of children between ages 5 and 8 is not as adorable. Namely, they swear. It might be one word. They may not know what it means. You may not know where they heard it. Unfortunately, unwanted language is everywhere. “You can’t prevent them from being exposed to it,” says Jacqueline Sperling, PhD, clinical psychologist and instructor at Harvard Medica...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 14, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Are polypills and population-based treatment the next big things?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as heart attack and stroke, is a leading cause of death and disability in the US. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for CVD, and even though they are quite common and highly treatable, they tend to be undertreated. This is especially true among those who are poor or members of a minority. It’s estimated that thousands of lives could be saved each year if more people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol received treatment for these conditions. The appeal of the polypill One reason that high blood pressure and high cholesterol are poorly treated ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 13, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

Vaccines for women: Before conception, during pregnancy, and after a birth
The rise of vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as measles and hepatitis, in the United States and around the globe has been alarming in recent years. For women — especially those hoping to become pregnant, as well as women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby — vaccines can be a worrisome topic. There are many misconceptions about vaccine safety in and around pregnancy that can lead to confusion and unnecessary fear of a lifesaving medical tool. As a practicing ob/gyn, I often discuss vaccines with my patients and help them sort out fears versus facts. Which vaccines should you consider before concepti...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 10, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ilona T. Goldfarb, MD, MPH Tags: Health Parenting Pregnancy Vaccines Women's Health Source Type: blogs

What are ultra-processed foods and are they bad for our health?
You hear it all the time: the advice to “eat less processed food.” But what is processed food? For that matter, what is minimally processed food or ultra-processed food? And how do processed foods affect our health? What are processed and ultra-processed foods? Unprocessed or minimally processed foods are whole foods in which the vitamins and nutrients are still intact. The food is in its natural (or nearly natural) state. These foods may be minimally altered by removal of inedible parts, drying, crushing, roasting, boiling, freezing, or pasteurization, to make them suitable to store and safe to consume. Unproc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 9, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: When marketing puts your health at risk
The goal of advertising is, of course, to catch your attention and sell you a product. But when it comes to health-related products, inaccuracies in advertising can be detrimental to your health. Perhaps you’ve seen a Vitamin Water ad recently that touts the health benefits of Vitamin Water while seeming to discourage getting a flu shot as out of fashion. It originally appeared in 2011 but has mysteriously resurfaced online. The text of the ad states, “Flu shots are so last year,” and subheadings add “more vitamin C, more immunity, less snotty tissues.” The average customer seeing this ad coul...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 8, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Complementary and alternative medicine Health Vaccines Vitamins and supplements Source Type: blogs

What parents need to know about a vegan diet
A vegan diet is made up of only plant-based products — no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs (some people also exclude honey). While these diets are still relatively rare, they are becoming more common. Some families or teens choose them for health reasons, and it’s certainly true that plant-based diets are low in saturated fat and can have other health benefits. Some choose them for philosophical reasons — either sustainability, or not wanting to harm animals, or both. Whatever the reason, it’s important to get educated before you begin. You should talk to your doctor, and if possible it’s a good ide...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 7, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Nutrition Parenting Source Type: blogs

Vestibular migraine: Progress in the search for treatments
Nearly 15% of the world’s population has migraine, a condition in which moderate-to-severe headache is associated with neurological abnormalities such as visual dysfunction, sensitivity to light, disordered speech, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. While we now have many options to treat the head pain associated with migraine, we are often helpless in treating these other associated neurological symptoms. One of the most bothersome neurological symptoms patients report is vertigo or dizziness-associated with migraine, a condition we call vestibular migraine, and in which patients feel as though they, or the environment...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 6, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: William Renthal, MD, PhD Tags: Headache Source Type: blogs

Why medical research keeps changing its mind
Did you ever wonder why medical research seems to flip-flop so often? Eggs used to be terrible for your health; now they’re not so bad. Stomach ulcers were thought to be due to stress and a “type A personality” but that’s been disproven. I was taught that every postmenopausal woman should take hormone replacement therapy to prevent heart disease and bone loss; now it’s considered way too risky. It can make you question every bit of medical news you hear. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Questioning what you read or hear is reasonable. And maybe medical reversals — when new re...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 3, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Medical Research Prevention Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

Congenital heart disease and autism: A possible link?
Children born with congenital heart disease (CHD) are now surviving at extraordinarily high rates; for most, their life expectancy may be comparable to that of the general population. However, despite the great advances in medical and surgical care, many people with CHD experience long-lasting neurodevelopmental difficulties. These include problems with attention and executive function skills, learning challenges, and in some cases, lower-than-normal IQs. Study links congenital heart disease and autism A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics provides compelling evidence that there may also be an association betw...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 2, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Johanna Calderon, PhD Tags: Children's Health Heart Health Parenting Screening Source Type: blogs

Getting sleep in the hospital
If you or any of your loved ones has ever been hospitalized, one of the complaints you may have heard about most is how hard it is to sleep in the hospital. There are lots of things about hospital routines that can make things difficult for patients to sleep, besides noise and illness. While some hospitals have taken steps to ensure that patients are not interrupted unnecessarily at night, this is not universal. Here are some things you can expect, and some steps you might be able to take to help the hospital give you a better night’s rest. Some reasons you might be woken at night might be unavoidable You might be on...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 31, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Melissa Bartick, MD Tags: Fatigue Health care Medical Research Sleep Source Type: blogs

An omnivore ’s dilemma: How much red meat is too much?
In October 2019, the Annals of Internal Medicine published controversial guidelines advising Americans to carry on consuming red and processed meat at current amounts. The guideline authors characterized meat-eaters as somewhat incapable of dietary change, and portrayed the benefits for reducing red and processed meat intake as insignificant. These guidelines contradict previous studies that link processed meat and red meat with early death and an increased risk of disease, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. If omnivores are confused, it’s hard to blame them. Americans are eating less meat, but not le...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 30, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Should you use probiotics for your vagina?
You know probiotics can be good for your gut, but does your vagina need one too? You might think so, based on probiotic marketing these days. Probiotics are in everything from drinks to pills and powders, and in many cases, are being promoted as a means of improving your vaginal health. Women seem to be listening, says Dr. Caroline Mitchell, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. Vaginal probiotic supplements are hugely popular. This includes both probiotic pills and suppository capsules that are inserted into the vagina using an applicator. But evidence of effect...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 27, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Sexual Conditions Vitamins and supplements Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Eosinophilic esophagitis: A new food-related allergic condition on the rise?
In the early 1990s, doctors began describing a new condition affecting the esophagus of patients who were predisposed to allergies including food allergy, asthma, and eczema, and who were having trouble swallowing. Today, we call this condition eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). What is EoE? EoE is an allergic inflammation of the esophagus that causes a range of symptoms. Adolescents and adults most often experience it as difficulty swallowing, sometimes feeling like food moves too slowly through the esophagus and into the stomach. In some cases, food actually gets stuck (and may require urgent removal). Children and some adu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Garber, MD Tags: Allergies Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

How to help your baby through shots and blood tests
As much as we try to avoid having our babies go through pain, sometimes it is inevitable — and sometimes, as is the case with vaccinations and blood tests, pain is part of something that is ultimately important for the baby’s health and well-being. Luckily, shots and blood tests are both quick. But there are things you can do to help your baby feel less pain, be less afraid, and get through the procedure more easily. Helping your baby through the pain of shots and blood tests Here are some suggestions that will help: Hold your baby. Having you be close by, and feeling your skin against theirs, can be very comf...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 24, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Tests and procedures Vaccines Source Type: blogs

A new look at steroid injections for knee and hip osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common and potentially debilitating condition. It’s a degenerative joint disease (often called the “wear-and-tear” type) in which the smooth lining of cartilage becomes thinned and uneven, exposing the bone beneath. Although osteoarthritis is tightly linked with aging, we now know there is more to it than age alone: genetics, weight, physical activity, and a number of other factors can conspire to make it more likely that someone will develop osteoarthritis while someone else won’t. Osteoarthritis is the primary reason that more than a million joints (mostly hips and knees) are r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 23, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Osteoarthritis Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Researchers urge prostate cancer screening for men with BRCA gene defects
Prostate cancer screening with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test has been criticized for flagging too many slow-growing tumors that might never be life-threatening. But some men have inherited gene defects that boost their risk of developing prostate cancers that can be quite aggressive. Is PSA screening particularly well-suited for these genetically defined groups? New research suggests the answer is yes. In November, a team of British scientists released highly anticipated findings from a study of PSA screening in men with defects in a pair of important genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2. Better known for increasing the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Prostate Knowledge Screening HPK Source Type: blogs

Wearables and sleep: What can they really tell us?
Smart devices are everywhere, including wrist-based monitors. These wearables promise to count our steps, remind us to move, and provide insight on our sleep. But can we trust them to measure our sleep accurately? Most wrist-based devices are based on an accelerometer, which measures wrist movement. The data gathered from the accelerometer — how often the wrist moves and how forceful that movement is — are coded as sleep or wake. In some cases, programs will also label sleep as light or deep, seeming to imply that the sleep is good or bad. Some devices also monitor heart rate. Small variations in the timing of ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine Dudley, MD, MPH Tags: Fatigue Sleep Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

A low-tech school vacation: Keeping kids busy and happy without screens
As we near the holiday season, along with trying to keep track of holiday events, parties, and gifts, parents have to think about what to do with their children during school vacation. Given how exhausting the holiday season can be, it’s understandable why parents often let their children spend hours with the TV, tablet, or video games. After all, happy, quiet kids make for happy parents who can finally get stuff done — or relax. Except kids are spending way too much time in front of screens. According to Common Sense Media, kids ages 8 to 12 are spending nearly five hours a day on entertainment media — a...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 19, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Drills, needles, and pain, oh my! Coping with dental anxiety
For many people, going to the dentist is an unpleasant but manageable experience. For others, just the thought of going to the dentist causes severe anxiety, leading them to delay or avoid dental treatment. Unfortunately, this behavior can spiral into a vicious cycle of dental pain, health problems, worse anxiety, and more complex and costly dental procedures. Dental anxiety and phobia It’s very common for people to fear going to the dentist. When dental fear is severe and leads people to delay or cancel treatment, these individuals may meet criteria for dental phobia or odontophobia, which is included in the Diagnos...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tien Jiang, DMD, MEd Tags: Anxiety and Depression Dental Health Health care Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

Infertility: Grandparents in waiting
“Do you have grandchildren?” This seems like a simple question and one appropriate to ask women and men of a certain age. However, for those who are grandparents-in-waiting this question can bring layers of pain, fear, and challenge. These feelings are all the more powerful for grandparents-in-waiting who themselves experienced infertility years earlier, but they can wallop anyone whose child is struggling to have a child. I’ll begin by defining “grandparents-in-waiting.” I use this to refer to people — usually in their 60s and 70s — who have adult children dealing with infertility...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 17, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Fertility Infertility Relationships Source Type: blogs

DOACs now recommended over warfarin to prevent blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation
For decades, warfarin (Coumadin) was the standard anticoagulant medication used to prevent blood clots, which can lead to stroke, in people with atrial fibrillation (afib). Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs), sometimes called novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs), are a new type of anticoagulant medication that came on the market in 2010. In 2019, the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology/Heart Rhythm Society (AHA/ACC/HRS) updated their afib guidelines to strongly recommend using DOACs over warfarin in people with afib. Warfarin is effective, but has downsides Afib is a condition in which the upper chambers...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Zimetbaum, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Weight loss surgery for children and teens struggling with obesity
Right now, one in 12 children and adolescents in the US are severely obese. If that isn’t startling enough, consider this: among 12-to-15-year-olds, that number jumps to one in 10 — and among 16-to-19-year-olds, it is one in seven. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the best hope for many of these youths may be bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery is surgery that helps with weight loss by making the stomach smaller and making other changes in the digestive system. It’s jarring to think about doing irreversible surgery on an adolescent — or a child, as the AAP discourages age limi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 13, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Diabetes Diet and Weight Loss Parenting Source Type: blogs

Lasmiditan: New first-in-class drug treatment approved for migraine
Migraine is a huge medical problem, accounting for half of the disability produced by all neurologic diseases worldwide. The medication sumatriptan (Imitrex) is well known for the treatment of a migraine attack. Sumatriptan is part of a group of medications known as the triptans. Triptan medications have been in use for over 20 years and are very effective for the acute treatment of headache (relieving migraine headaches that are already in progress). But they also have limitations; triptans can cause temporary narrowing of blood vessels in the heart and elsewhere that can result in side effects, such as chest pain or tigh...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul Rizzoli, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Headache Health Source Type: blogs

Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise: Should you worry?
In 2018, the number of bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reported in the United States reached an all-time high. This is worrisome for many reasons. Having an STI can raise risks for HIV, infertility, pregnancy complications, and infant death. Fortunately, all of these outcomes can be avoided if people receive appropriate treatment. What are STIs? STIs are illnesses caused by microorganisms passed between people during sex. An STI can affect anyone who is exposed to it. Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are the most common bacterial infections. Trichomoniasis, a protozoan infection, is also diagnosed freque...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 11, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Eric A. Meyerowitz, MD Tags: Adolescent health HIV Men's Health Relationships Sexual Conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Trouble with crossword puzzles? Improve your semantic memory
Can you distinguish the taste of a red wine versus a rosé? How about the look of a 1960s muscle car versus a foreign import? Do you prefer to grow lilies or tulips? Would you rather listen to Dark Side of the Moon or “Fly Me to the Moon”? To answer any of these questions, you need to use your semantic memory. Your semantic memory is your store of factual knowledge of the world and the meaning of words. It’s how you know that a fork is for eating (not twirling your hair) and what color a lion is. It’s both the source of your vocabulary and how you know what something does even if you don&rsquo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 10, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Brain and cognitive health Healthy Aging Memory Source Type: blogs

Medications as effective as stents for most with coronary artery disease
This study suggests that for most, managing CAD with medications alone (the conservative approach) is as safe and effective as the more invasive strategy of cardiac catheterization and opening of the blocked artery. Findings of the ISCHEMIA trial ISCHEMIA followed over 5,000 patients with significant narrowing in one or more coronary arteries. Half of the patients were randomly selected to receive conservative treatment with optimal medical therapy (OMT) and lifestyle changes to treat risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The other half were given OMT and also sent for cardiac catheterization (thre...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Got children? How to get out the door on time
Despite valiant planning efforts and repeated requests, your children are half-dressed. They made the house look like a category F5 tornado came through, and are nowhere near ready to go when you need to get out the door. You can feel your temperature rising as the clock ticks toward late again. If this sounds familiar, below are some helpful tools. Consider building these strategies into your routine to help you get out the door on time with fully-dressed children in tow. Practicing dry runs of the strategies below with younger children can help prepare you for when you need to leave the house on time in the future. Make ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 6, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Psoriasis and cancer: What ’s the link?
This study does not go into detail about the extent to which these comorbidities may influence the increased risk of cancer in psoriasis patients. People with severe psoriasis often do not get enough relief with topical therapies (ones applied to the skin), such as topical corticosteroids and vitamin D analogues. They may then be started on medications that target specific immune cells and proteins. Some of these medications increase the risk of infections. Previous studies have found little to no increased risk of cancer in patients receiving these therapies. Other treatments, such as phototherapy (light therapy), are kno...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 5, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dominic Wu, MD Tags: Cancer Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

The complicated relationship between fish oil and heart health
For nearly two decades, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended that people with coronary heart disease (CHD) consume omega-3-fatty acids (the kinds of fatty acids found in fish and fish oil) to prevent another heart attack. This recommendation was based on early randomized, controlled trials, which found that fish oil supplementation was associated with lower rates of stroke, heart attack, and death in people who already had heart disease. On the other hand, the impact of fish oil supplements on preventing a first heart attack or stroke (primary prevention) was never clearly demonstrated. Recently there have ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Heart Health Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Can monitoring blood pressure at home cut maternal mortality?
Worldwide, hypertension (high blood pressure) and complications that stem from it are the second leading cause of maternal mortality. In fact, it causes about one in six maternal deaths. Among pregnant women in the US, rates of both chronic high blood pressure and pregnancy-related high blood pressure are rising. One reason this is worrisome is that high blood pressure is a major factor in preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition that may affect women late in pregnancy and in the early weeks after birth. Now a study in Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that a team approach to monitoring blood pressure at hom...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Huma Farid, MD Tags: Health Hypertension and Stroke Parenting Pregnancy Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Most men can hold off on radiation after prostate cancer surgery
Decisions about follow-up care after prostate cancer surgery sometimes involve a basic choice. If the cancer had features that predict it could return, doctors will likely recommend radiation therapy. But when should a man get that treatment? Should he get the radiation right away, even if there’s no evidence of cancer in the body (this is called adjuvant radiation)? Or should he opt for “salvage” radiation, which is given only if his blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) begin to climb? Since prostate cancer cells release PSA, the levels should be nondetectable after surgery. If they increase, ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Living With Prostate Cancer Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

How to talk to children about the serious illness of a loved one
It’s an inescapable truth: sometimes hard, bad things happen in life — including that sometimes parents, or other important people in a child’s life, get very sick. It’s natural to want to shield a child from news like this, but that’s not a good idea. Children pick up on more than people realize — and can sometimes imagine things to be even worse than they are. Also, it’s important to help children gain the understanding and skills they need to weather a loved one’s illness, as well as to weather the inevitable difficult times in their future. Talking to a child about seriou...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Could white-coat hypertension harm your heart?
For most people, going to the doctor is usually a bit nerve-racking. But for some, the stress of a medical appointment triggers a temporary rise in blood pressure. If that’s the case for you — and if your blood pressure is normal at home and in other nonmedical settings — you may have what’s known as white-coat hypertension. Now, a large study suggests that people with this condition face a greater threat of heart disease than people whose blood pressure readings are always normal. According to current guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, normal bloo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Will a purpose-driven life help you live longer?
In this study, having more life purpose was associated with a lower rate of death during the study period overall, from cardiovascular disease and blood conditions, and also from digestive conditions. However, stronger life purpose didn’t appear to insulate study participants from all health conditions. Researchers did not find an effect on death rates from cancer, tumors, or conditions that affected the respiratory tract. It’s also important to note that the study didn’t prove that having a life purpose resulted in the lower death rates seen in the study. “This was a well-done observational study. ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 28, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Aging Men's Health Relationships Women's Health Source Type: blogs

A clue to a cure for Alzheimer ’s disease
Are you worried about Alzheimer’s disease? Does one of your parents or siblings have the disease? If so, your risks are between two and four times that of the general public. What about people without a family history of the disease? Unfortunately, everyone is at risk for it. By age 85, half of you reading this article today will have developed Alzheimer’s disease, with or without a family history. Sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? I’m writing today to give you some good news. A new study from the lab of Harvard researcher Yakeel Quiroz, PhD, has suggested a new target for drugs that might have the p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 27, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Genes Health Healthy Aging Memory Source Type: blogs

Living with Crohn ’s disease: Recognizing and managing flares
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Together with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s is one of the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s affects approximately 500,000 Americans and is a chronic, lifelong condition that typically alternates between periods of relatively stable or absent symptoms (remission) and periods of symptom flare-ups that can last for days, weeks, or even months. The goal of treatment is to induce remission and then to maximize the chance that patients stay in remission. However, almost everyone with Croh...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Garber, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

Yes, you can avoid weight gain over the holidays!
The holidays are a time when family and friends gather to enjoy each other’s company — and eat! Indulgent meals, bountiful buffets, cookie swaps, holiday parties… it’s no surprise that maintaining a healthy weight can present even more challenges during the holidays than throughout the rest of the year. Each year, on average, we tend to gain a small amount of weight (about one pound per year). According to some research, most of that weight is gained over the holiday season. Study suggests you can control holiday weight gain Does that mean we are destined to see a bigger number when we step on the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 25, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Darolutamide approved for nonmetastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer
Sometimes after finishing prostate cancer treatment, men get an unwelcome surprise: their prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels creep higher, suggesting tumors too small to be seen lurk somewhere in the body. This leads to several options. Doctors can continue to monitor a man’s condition with imaging scans. Or, given the anxiety associated with rising PSA, they might try to lower the levels with chemically “castrating” drugs that inhibit testosterone, a hormone that makes prostate tumors grow faster. Following that treatment, called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), PSA generally declines and may beco...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Living With Prostate Cancer Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A fibromyalgia treatment ( “But you look so good!”)
It’s something I’ve heard countless times from patients with fibromyalgia. They’re telling a friend or family member about their condition and the response is, “But you don’t look sick” or “But you look so well.” Sometimes, the reaction is more of an eye roll or some other response that reflects skepticism that the problem is even “real.” Those are issues addressed head-on in a TV ad for Lyrica (pregabalin), a treatment for fibromyalgia. “To most people, I look like most people,” a woman says. “But on the inside I feel chronic, widespread pain.&r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Fatigue Pain Management Source Type: blogs

A look at the effects of nail polish on nail health and safety
In recent years, the nail polish industry has been transformed by the development of longer-lasting polish techniques. As dermatologists, we are often asked about the effects of these various products on nails. Here we review the main types of polish, and consider the pros and cons of each with an eye toward nail health and safety. Traditional nail polish Classic nail polish is painted onto the nail plate, usually in multiple coats, and then air-dried. Conventional nail polish is a polymer dissolved in a solvent. During the drying process, the solvent evaporates, and the polymer hardens. “Hybrid” polish is simi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 21, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Janelle Nassim, MD Tags: Health Skin and Hair Care Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Suffering from “chemo brain”? There’s hope and many things you can do
Some of the most common symptoms experienced by cancer patients are memory problems, difficulties with multitasking, and reduced attention and concentration. Historically, cancer patients with these symptoms were often diagnosed with depression. Research over the past decade has revealed that many cancer patients experience such symptoms as a consequence of specific damage to the brain caused by either their tumor or their treatment. While radiation to the brain has long been linked to causing cognitive difficulties, the effects of chemotherapy on brain structure and function have only recently been discovered. We now know...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jorg Dietrich, MD, PhD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Cancer Memory Radiation Source Type: blogs

Benefits of incorporating more aerobic activity into stroke rehabilitation
After a stroke, the main goal is to get back home and be as independent as possible. To achieve that goal, most stroke rehabilitation centers focus on helping people to regain lost function, such as the inability to use a hand, to speak, to swallow, or to walk. A great deal of effort is put into functional recovery so that the patient can go home safely and adequately perform activities of daily living (ADLs). There is little effort put into aerobic exercise and conditioning in most stroke rehabilitation programs. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA)...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 19, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Hypertension and Stroke Source Type: blogs

Why are women using CBD products — and do they work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and other products containing CBD are being touted as a natural, organic remedy for a wide range of women’s health concerns. Sellers of these products make many claims: CBD has calming effects on sleep, mood, and anxiety; eases hot flashes and improves bone density by balancing hormonal changes of menopause; and has anti-inflammatory properties that clear skin, cure acne, and calm rosacea. It’s promoted for PMS symptoms like bloating and mood swings. And CBD-infused lubricants claim to boost arousal and enjoyment of sex. So, how much of this is true? First, what is CBD? CBD is a major ingr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Rose McKeon Olson, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Drugs and Supplements Health Marijuana Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Think your child has ADHD? What your pediatrician can — and should — do
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood. It affects approximately 7% to 8% of all children and youth in the US. As the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) pointed out in their recent clinical practice guideline for ADHD, that’s more than the mental health system can handle, which means that pediatricians need to step up and help out. So, if your child is having problems with attention, focus, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or some combination of those, and is at least 4 years old, your first step should be an appointment with your child’s primary...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Neurological conditions Parenting Source Type: blogs

Chronic fatigue syndrome: Gradually figuring out what ’s wrong
In 1983, a health professional in her 30s walked into my office and said, “I’ve been healthy all of my life. A year ago, I came down with some kind of virus — sore throat, aching muscles, swollen lymph glands, fever. My fatigue was so bad I was in bed for nearly a week. Many of the symptoms gradually improved, but the terrible fatigue and difficulty thinking have not gotten better. They’re so bad I can’t fulfill my responsibilities at home or at work. This illness is affecting my brain, stealing my energy, and affecting my immune system. It’s keeping me from realizing my dreams.” T...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Anthony Komaroff, MD Tags: Fatigue Health Source Type: blogs

Straight talk on planking
The best exercise I do only takes a minute. Granted, it is often the longest and most grueling 60 seconds of my life. I sweat, I shake, and I often collapse in relief when it’s over. But spending quality time in a plank pose always pays off. The plank pose is where you hold a push-up position while resting on your forearms. This simple move is the ideal exercise for strengthening crucial core muscles. As you go about your day, almost every move you make revolves around your core — from picking up items on the floor to twisting to see if the coast is clear when driving. Why is it important to have a strong core?...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 13, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Back Pain Exercise and Fitness Health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is the most common type of arthritis. Usually, it occurs among people of advanced age. But it can begin in middle age or even sooner, especially if there’s been an injury to the joint. While there are treatments available — exercise, braces or canes, loss of excess weight, various pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines — these are no cures, and none of the treatments are predictably effective. In fact, often they don’t work at all, or help only a little. Injected steroids or synthetic lubricants can be tried as well. When all else fails, jo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Complementary and alternative medicine Pain Management Source Type: blogs