Harvard Health Blog

Join the discussion with experts from Harvard Health Publications and others like you on a variety of health topics, medical news and views.

5 ways to hold on to optimism — and reap health benefits

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Despite many Americans feeling discouraged as 2016 ended, optimism abounds for the future. Such an attitude is not just a trait of those with a sunny disposition: Research indicates that optimism can positively impact both mental and physical health. If you find yourself with a more cynical mindset, there are methods that can improve your outlook on life. We offer five ways to help you see the world through rosier glasses.

What the 21st Century Cures Act means for behavioral health

Richard Frank, PhD
Richard Frank, PhD, Contributor

The 21st Century Cures Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December, provides or extends funding for a variety of health initiatives, including support for people with mental health and substance use issues. It builds on important innovations introduced in the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act.

Understanding head injuries

Jonathan Nadler, MD
Jonathan Nadler, MD, Contributor

Treatment for a head injury depends on the nature of the injury, whether or not there is bleeding in the brain, whether the bleeding is coming from an artery or a vein, and several other factors. Imaging may or may not be needed and doctors rely on well-established guidelines to determine when a CT or other scan is necessary. Most important, do everything you can to avoid head injuries, including proper use of helmets.

New guidelines for preventing peanut allergy in babies

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

New guidelines to prevent peanut allergies in children involve careful exposure to peanut products. Experts identify three levels of “allergy risk.” The safest approach to exposure depends on which category a baby is in. It is always important to discuss this with your doctor before introducing peanut products. Some babies may need allergy testing before trying this. No matter the strategy, parents need to remember that peanuts are a choking hazard for young children and many babies have trouble managing peanut butter, so it needs to be used carefully.

Racism and discrimination in health care: Providers and patients

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

It is sadly true that people of color cannot necessarily expect to receive the same quality of medical care in this country as whites. And unfortunately, discrimination by patients toward doctors is another problem that the medical community needs to address. To overcome the racism and discrimination that lead to health care disparities, doctors and patients need to identify and manage our own implicit biases.

The power and prevalence of loneliness

Charlotte S. Yeh, MD
Charlotte S. Yeh, MD, Chief Medical Officer, AARP Services, Inc., Guest Contributor

In addition to the emotional toll felt by millions of older people, loneliness affects brain function and physical health as well. The simple connection of regular contact with others provides support and helps alleviate isolation. Older people experiencing loneliness also miss simple everyday moments, such as sharing a meal, holding hands, taking country walks, or going on holiday.

Preventing and treating colds: The evidence and the anecdotes

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

No one wants to deal with the misery of a cold, and nothing is guaranteed to prevent you from catching one, but some basic precautions can help reduce the risk. If you already have a cold, certain treatments are definitely more effective than others.

Your New Year’s resolution: A gym membership?

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

If you are ready to make a commitment to improve your fitness and health, joining a gym gives you a wide variety of options for equipment and types of workouts. This can help you sidestep workout boredom and help you meet recommended physical activity guidelines. But before you sign up, take time to ask questions to be sure the gym meets your needs and budget.

3 things you can do when your child’s eczema gets bad

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Simple steps and treatments, including the right moisturizer, can ease the discomfort of eczema for children during the winter months. As with any chronic health problem, it’s important to work with your doctor to create a plan to manage flare ups, as well as a strategy to prevent them from happening in the first place.

A healthy lifestyle may help you sidestep Alzheimer’s

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

By now it’s evident that healthy lifestyle habits have clear benefits, and evidence suggests that keeping Alzheimer’s disease at bay may eventually be added to the list. Data are strongest for regular exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and sufficient sleep as important ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Other lifestyle choices may help as well.