Harvard Health Blog

Join the discussion with experts from Harvard Health Publications and others like you on a variety of health topics, medical news and views.

Now hear this, men: Hearing aids can be a life changer

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

Many older men need hearing aids, but are reluctant to wear them. Because hearing loss is associated with greater risks for certain conditions including depression, anyone who suspects their hearing is deteriorating should have a hearing test. It is important to note that hearing aids make sounds louder, but not clearer. There are other ways to improve communication with or without a hearing aid.

Anti-inflammatory medications and the risk for cardiovascular disease: A new study, a new perspective

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

The results of a large study of the anti-inflammatory medication celecoxib in people with arthritis and increased risk for cardiovascular disease are changing previously held beliefs regarding the drug raising the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Movember: Stashing prostate and testicular cancer awareness into the limelight

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

The Movember movement began in 2003 to help raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancers as well as other health concerns including mental health issues. One of the primary goals of this initiative is to encourage men to take the time to pay attention to their health. This includes doing self-exams and getting the necessary screenings so that cancers can be detected and treated earlier.

Let’s recognize caregivers and make it easier for all of us to do the right thing

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

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Being a caregiver is an act of love and responsibility, but it comes at a cost. There are currently 40 million caregivers in the United States. These individuals devote time to take care of a loved one, endure stress that carries health risks, and often bear a financial burden as well. It is hard work and it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate those who are caregivers. Ideally, doctors and the health care system will find ways to help caregivers integrate their responsibilities into the workflow of their lives in the interest of better outcomes for everyone.

Avoid these common health perils of Thanksgiving

Jonathan Nadler, MD
Jonathan Nadler, MD, Contributor

Nothing ruins a holiday quicker than a visit to a hospital emergency department. An emergency department physician offers some advice to help you avoid injury and illness during Thanksgiving.

Brain science suggests “mind wandering” can help manage anxiety

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

The wandering mind can get stuck on negative thoughts and start to “react” to a perceived threat that feels very real–and makes you feel anxious. Naming the negative feeling associated with that thought and then helping your mind wander in a more positive direction can help.

Treatment versus monitoring of prostate cancer: Survival rates the same after 10 years

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

Two new studies add to the evidence that for many men with prostate cancer, if it is detected early and has not metastasized beyond the prostate gland, monitoring the cancer will lead to the same chance of survival after 10 as choosing surgery or radiation. Men treated with surgery or radiation often experience significant side effects. The rates of depression and anxiety were the same in men who opted for monitoring and those who opted for treatment.

Parents: How smart are you about antibiotics?

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

Antibiotics are essential medications and can save lives. But they should only be used when absolutely needed. As with any drug, antibiotics have risks as well as benefits. Side effects range from diarrhea to allergic reactions. Also, using antibiotics when they are not necessary can result in bacteria that cause infections that cannot be treated easily or effectively.

Online symptom checkers: You’ll still want to call a doctor when something’s wrong with you

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Researchers compared the diagnostic accuracy of human doctors with various symptom-checking services available online, but online diagnostics won’t be replacing humans anytime soon. While the doctors weren’t perfect, they consistently did better than the computer programs. The study investigators suggest that eventually such programs might be able to help physicians to improve their diagnostic accuracy.

Hot soup in a hurry

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Making your own soup is easier than you may think, and it’s certainly healthier than buying prepared soup from a restaurant or market. prepared soups often have too much fat and salt; by making it yourself, you can load it up with healthy vegetables. Add protein such as lentils or beans, fish, or extra-lean beef, turkey, or chicken for a complete meal.