Health

What’s the evidence for evidence-based medicine?

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

The history of medicine is filled with remedies that were relied upon for hundreds of years until they were eventually proven ineffective or possibly even dangerous, while legitimate practices and treatments were disregarded or ridiculed until evidence outweighed skepticism. The bottom line is that medical interventions — from tests to treatments — should neither be recommended nor condemned without considering and weighing the evidence. A future post will discuss what physicians look for when evaluating “the evidence.”

White coat syndrome or white coat logo syndrome? The pitfalls of doctor shopping by “brand”

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

Branding has the power to influence people, but it should not necessarily be a significant, or the only, factor when it comes to health care. Picking a physician based on the name of their hospital does not always correlate with quality of care, and it could even cost you a larger copay.

Time spent in “green” places linked with longer life in women

Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD

Greenery might do more than just cheer us up. A recent study shows it lowers the mortality rate in women. Green spaces decrease levels of depression and pollution while increasing levels of social engagement and physical activity. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded greenery, get out there and enjoy it more. Even urban areas can increase their greenery by planting more trees and shrubs. See if you can get your community to plant more plants. It will help everyone out in the long run.

How to rediscover meaning in your life

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

People who feel their life have meaning are less depressed and recover from illness more quickly. But that feeling of meaning can slip away when life hands you lemons. One of the best ways to reconnect with that sense of significance might just be stepping away from your routine and embracing spontaneity.

Parents: Call the doctor right away for these 4 symptoms

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

Most parents know when their child needs to be seen by a medical professional, but certain symptoms should be considered warning signs that require immediate attention. If your child perks up, or stops crying, or otherwise looks completely fine once you see a doctor, don’t feel silly. These symptoms terrify doctors, so it’s always better to be safe than very, very sorry.

The tricky thing about asthma

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

While a new study found that a significant percentage of people who had been diagnosed with asthma did not meet the official criteria for a diagnosis, the behavior of asthma can make diagnosing it a challenge.

Sharpen your cooking skills and improve your diet (and even your social life)

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

Cooking more meals at home is a great way to have more healthy food choices in your diet, and learning skills and techniques will enhance the range of dishes you’ll be able to prepare (and may have other benefits as well). If you need some help with your kitchen skills, classes are usually available through community education centers, cooking schools, and some retail stores.

Some medications don’t help back pain as much as we thought

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

With back pain affecting so many of us, it’s eye-opening that a new review of dozens of studies is reporting that many people who took NSAID medications did not feel any better, or felt only slightly better, after treatment.

Weight loss that works: A true story

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

When there are so many articles, books, and TV pitches on how to lose weight, how do you know what works and what’s a gimmick? When life is busy and you don’t want to completely give up the joys of the occasional treat, what’s a person to do. This story combines science and a physician’s personal experience to shed light on the basics of how to really lose weight.

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.