Archive for February, 2017

Parents: As more states legalize marijuana, here’s what you need to know and do

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

As marijuana becomes legal or is decriminalized in more states, teens are less likely to view its use as risky, so parents need to talk with their children about safety, especially if they use it themselves.

Bad bug, no drugs: The real end of antibiotics?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

The constant stream of antibiotics in the food we eat and in the hospitals that treat us is creating the perfect environment for antibiotic resistant bacteria. It’s not cost effective to develop new antibiotics to replace the now-useless ones, so our pipeline is drying up. And while this sounds bleak, there are things you can do as a consumer and as a patient to help. You can start by paying attention to the food you eat and by not pressing your doctor for unnecessary antibiotics.

Finding the tick in time could save you from Lyme!

Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG
Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG, Contributing Editor

Outdoor activities can be spoiled by getting Lyme disease from a tick bite. Know what to do to protect yourself (and your pets) from this infection and its unpleasant symptoms, as well as what to do if you have already been bitten. If you do end up with a tick “on board” it is important to remove it correctly and know when to call your doctor.

Home sleep studies may help identify sleep apnea

Stuart Quan, MD
Stuart Quan, MD, Contributing Editor

A sleep study is required to correctly diagnose sleep apnea, but laboratory sleep studies can be awkward and uncomfortable. Efforts to lower costs and make study subjects more at ease have led to the advent of in-home sleep studies.

Unlocking the lock jaw: Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunction

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

Most of us don’t appreciate the temporomandibular joint. It’s what lets us upon and close our mouths. Eating, chatting, yelling at a football game. Life just isn’t the same when there is a problem with this joint. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is painful and can worsen existing headache disorders. Learn more about TMJ, how to prevent it and how to treat it.

Parents: How to manage injuries at home—and when you need to go to the doctor

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

Children are usually active and, as they explore the world, don’t have the common sense and good judgment of most adults. So, it is very common for kids to experience minor injuries throughout childhood. Parents need to know when and how to handle injuries at home and when medical advice or attention is needed.

A primary care doctor delves into the opioid epidemic

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

A new approach to treating the large numbers of people with opioid use disorder involves using medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms, and has been shown to be safer and more effective than traditional detox treatment, but some question the replacement of one drug with others.

New imaging technique may help some men avoid prostate biopsy

Charlie Schmidt
Charlie Schmidt, Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Disease

In a British study, a specialized type of MRI test did significantly better at identifying high-grade prostate tumors than a transrectal ultrasound biopsy. It’s hoped that one day this test might help men avoid prostate biopsies and their potential complications.

The underappreciated health benefits of being a weekend warrior

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

While it’s been believed that intense exercise only on weekends is not an advisable or effective fitness routine, a new study suggests that, if done safely and for enough time to meet the recommended guidelines, weekend-only exercise can be beneficial.

Charles Darwin, Chagas’ disease, and the killer kissing bugs of California

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

An insect known as the kissing bug has the ability to pass along Chagas’ disease to unsuspecting people. While it affects more people in Latin America than in this country, this parasitic disease can still be a problem in the southwestern United States. Most cases of Chagas’ disease pass without much incidence, but it can cause lasting problems. The rates of Chagas’ disease could go up with climate change, and more research is definitely needed. Charles Darwin may be one of the first “researchers” on the subject, but he’s not to be the last.