Health

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.

Lost in translation: Getting your doctor to be fluent in “patient”

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

Medical knowledge is growing at a rapid pace and technology is playing a larger role in medical practice. Office visits are becoming shorter in length and there is usually much to cover. That can make a doctor’s appointment challenging for both patient and physician. Strong communication is essential to help ensure that both patient and doctor make the best use of this time. Some simple steps can help you get the most from your time with your doctor and help ensure that you understand and can successfully act on his or her recommendations.

The data are in: Eat right, reduce your risk of diabetes

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

Data from surveys of 200,000 people spanning two decades add support to the belief that eating a diet made up largely of plant-based foods is likely to lower a person’s risk of developing diabetes.

Antibiotics don’t speed recovery from asthma attacks

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

Winter is often a tough season for asthma sufferers, who generally more likely to become sick than those without asthma. It’s important for asthma patients to receive proper care when ill, and a recent study sheds new light on a common treatment that might not be the best course of action for most asthmatics.

Bronchiolitis: What parents of infants need to know

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

While all babies get colds, bronchiolitis, a respiratory infection that works its way into the lungs. Treatment is usually “supportive,” which means steps to relieve the symptoms, and most babies start to get better after a week or so. But bronchiolitis can make some babies very sick, so parents need to be alert for signs of worsening illness.

Immediate radiation when PSA levels spike after prostate cancer surgery helps reduce risk of recurrence

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

After prostate cancer surgery, the patient’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is monitored by his doctor via a simple blood test. New research indicates that if the PSA increases following surgery, immediate radiation therapy can reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.