Lung disease

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.

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.

When a cough just won’t go away

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

There are a number of conditions that can cause a cough to linger for weeks or months. Doctors treating patients with a chronic cough should consider both the more likely and less common possibilities. When a cough persists after those possibilities have been ruled out or treated, new research suggests that irritated nerve ending in the “cough centers” of the airways could be behind a chronic cough.

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.

Just what is pneumonia, anyway?

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

The term “pneumonia” encompasses a number of illnesses and infections. Some are more serious than others, and some are more easily treated than others. Since pneumonia has dominated the news cycle for the past few weeks, we’ve put together some definitions to demystify this catchall term for a range of lung conditions.

E-cigarettes: Good news, bad news

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

While e-cigarettes do not produce the tar or toxic gases found in cigarette smoke, this doesn’t make them a healthy option. The e-liquid found in e-cigarettes still contains highly addictive nicotine that also increases your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Nicotine also increases the risk of addiction to other drugs and may impair brain development. Rather than rely on the perceived benefits of e-cigarettes, people should avoid smoking altogether.

What’s the best way to quit smoking?

Wynne Armand, MD
Wynne Armand, MD, Contributing Editor

Quitting smoking can add years to your life. The earlier the better, but the benefits of quitting are real and significant, even if you’re 80. There are several ways to quit and it often takes multiple attempts to become and ex-smoker for good. Research suggests that for some people, quitting “cold turkey” may be the most effective approach.

Lung disease in smokers who don’t have COPD

Wynne Armand, MD
Wynne Armand, MD, Contributing Editor

You probably know that smoking has enormous consequences for your health. One of the most common is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disorder involving damage to the lungs. If you smoke, but you don’t have COPD, you may be tempted to think your lungs are relatively unharmed — but a recent study suggests that some smokers without COPD might still suffer lung damage.