Archive for October, 2016

Physicians, paperwork, and paying attention to patients

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

If it seems like your doctor spends more time during your appointment looking at a computer or paperwork than examining you and listening to you, you’re right, and your doctor is just as frustrated by this. Tasks that distract from time with patients include making sure codes are correct for insurance purposes, completing forms, and updating electronic medical records.

Talk to the animals: Animal-assisted therapy offers emotional support

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Interacting with animals can be helpful to people dealing with issues like anxiety and depression. Animal-assisted therapy is used in settings such as retirement communities and hospitals, and can be helpful for those affected by traumatic events.

Regular meditation more beneficial than vacation

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

A study of participants in a mindfulness workshop found that the benefits of meditation and yoga are as significant as the relaxation benefit of taking a vacation, and are more persistent. In addition, regularly practicing meditation and yoga can boost immunity, and seems to promote healthier aging.

Activity tracker may not be the key to weight loss

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

A recent study found that using an activity tracker, in addition to a careful diet and increased exercise, may not help people lose weight or keep it off. The reasons why are unclear and further studies are needed to determine how, if at all, these devices might aid in weight loss.

New expert recommendations on children and media use

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

In the past, experts have said children should spend no more than two hours a day in front of a screen. But as society changes – and that guideline becomes increasingly unrealistic – advice changes. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just released new recommendation. Rather than suggest rules, the AAP aims to help parents and families understand the effects of media and screens on developing children and to provide tools on how to handle technology correctly.

To gluten or not to gluten?

Mallika Marshall, MD
Mallika Marshall, MD, Contributing Editor

Gluten is a serious problem for people with celiac disease, but there are many who simply feel that gluten free eating is healthier. The profusion of gluten-free foods makes it a lot easier to eat gluten free than it used to be but , they may contain more sugar and fat to make them taste better and you miss out on some nutrients by avoiding whole grains in your diet.

Your mom was right: “Morning sickness” means a lower chance of miscarriage

Hope Ricciotti, MD
Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

A majority of women experience some sort of nausea (morning sickness) during pregnancy. Many have speculated that nausea is a good sign that indicates a healthy pregnancy. Until recently, there was little solid evidence to support this belief, but a recent study suggests there is some truth to this old wives’ tale.

Good hearing essential to physical and emotional well-being

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

Hearing loss is common among older people, causing a profound impact on a person’s quality of life by creating a sense of isolation that affects overall health. In most cases, hearing problems can be alleviated relatively easily, restoring one’s sense of connection to the world.

3 things you might not know about childhood asthma

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

For children with asthma and their parents, it’s important to understand what the symptoms mean and why a proper diagnosis matters, so that the right treatment can be prescribed for each child.

Can hormonal birth control trigger depression?

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

Research from Denmark found an association between the use of hormonal birth control and an increased likelihood of depression. While the risk of depression among women using hormonal forms of birth control was clearly increased, the overall number of women affected was small and was found to be highest in women under 20.