Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.

Articles

Can blue light-blocking glasses improve your sleep?

Published October 26, 2021

Exposure to blue light during the daytime is desirable: it helps synchronize the body’s circadian clock and helps people stay alert. But stimulation from certain wavelengths of blue light in the hours leading up to bedtime can interfere with sleep. Glasses that block stimulating blue light, whether prescription or not, are being touted as helping with sleep, but the evidence is questionable.

Skills children need to succeed in life — and getting youngsters started

Published October 25, 2021

All parents want their children to be happy and able to successfully navigate life’s challenges. Five core skills form a great foundation and the early childhood window is particularly important for developing them. Parents can help their children learn and strengthen these skills in the course of everyday activities.

Thinking about COVID booster shots? Here’s what to know

Published October 22, 2021

Now that a booster shot is recommended for some people who had COVID-19 vaccines, many of us have questions about the right timing, dose, and type of vaccine to seek.

Cancer survivors' sleep is affected long after treatment

Published October 22, 2021

According to a new study, many people who have survived cancer treatment experience poor sleep long after treatment has ended. These people also reported emotional distress, financial hardship, and concern that their cancer might return. Many sleep disorders can be treated successfully, but an accurate diagnosis is essential to choosing the correct treatment.

Do I have to yell so much?

Published October 21, 2021

Do you frequently find yourself in situations where you resort to yelling? If you feel like doing that doesn’t help and doesn’t make the situation better, that is a good first step. It helps to understand why people yell, but beyond that it’s up to you to take control and employ strategies to regulate yourself in tense situations.

What to do when elective surgery is postponed

Published October 20, 2021

When hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients, elective surgeries need to be postponed. If your elective surgery is temporarily derailed, what steps can you take to help yourself cope and be prepared for when the surgery is rescheduled?

What happened to trusting medical experts?

Published October 19, 2021

In all aspects of our lives, we rely on the knowledge and advice of experts. So why are hundreds of thousands of people in the US rejecting advice on COVID-19 from well-respected health authorities, and embracing advice from those with dubious expertise –– and unproven and potentially dangerous remedies?

Stuttering in children: How parents can help

Published October 18, 2021

Stuttering in children is fairly common: as many as 10% of children stutter between the ages of 2 and 6. Although the majority of them stop, it can be distressing for both the children and their parents. Here's how to help your child manage stuttering and when to talk to your pediatrician or a speech-language specialist.

Icy fingers and toes: Poor circulation or Raynaud’s phenomenon?

Published October 15, 2021

Some people have poor circulation, but if your fingers pale and go numb when exposed to quick changes in temperature, it could be Raynaud’s phenomenon, a different kind of circulation problem. Generally, avoiding sudden exposure to cold and other factors that cause blood vessels to constrict, and being prepared with gloves and extra layers of clothing, helps.

Evoking calm: Practicing mindfulness in daily life helps

Published October 14, 2021

It’s easy to feel too busy to be mindful, but everyone can find a few minutes during the day to pause and reflect. Even a brief, regular mindfulness practice provides a respite from the pace and stress of life, and can help with memory, concentration, and focus.

Finding balance: 3 simple exercises to steady your steps

Published October 13, 2021

Being able to maintain balance is crucial to performing everyday activities. As people get older, systems in the body that help maintain balance aren’t as responsive as when they were younger. Practicing these exercises designed to improve balance helps build steadiness and prevent falls.

Boosting your child’s immune system

Published October 12, 2021

As children go through another school year under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are asking what they can do to keep their children healthy. While no magic solutions can ward off every illness, parents can take steps to help children — and everyone in their household — protect their health by keeping their immune systems robust.

Study: No effect on cognitive functioning from treatments for advanced prostate cancer

Published October 11, 2021

Some people being treated for cancer experience problems with memory and thinking, but most of the evidence for these effects comes from women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. A recent study looked at whether men being treated for prostate cancer experienced similar effects.

Surprising findings about metabolism and age

Published October 8, 2021

Metabolism is combination of all the chemical processes that allow an organism to sustain life. Multiple factors like age, sex, body mass, physical activity all have an effect on metabolism, but a new study revealed surprising information about the timing of age-related changes in metabolism over the course of the lifespan.

POTS: Diagnosing and treating this dizzying syndrome

Published October 6, 2021

Most of us don’t think twice about standing up, but for people affected by postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), standing can provoke lightheadedness and a racing heartbeat. While some people with POTS will require medications, most will improve with some specific dietary and behavioral changes.

Did we really gain weight during the pandemic?

Published October 5, 2021

Researchers studying weight gain during the pandemic looked at health records for millions of people from both before it and during the first year of it. Unsurprisingly, a significant percentage of people gained weight, but less expected is that nearly as many people lost weight during the same time period.

Dropping anchor on big emotions

Published October 4, 2021

When children are learning about their emotions and how to manage them, there can be spillovers at school and at home. Parents can help their child or teen navigate big emotions by talking about them, modeling calm behavior, and offering coping strategies like grounding and anchoring.

POTS: Lightheadedness and a racing heart

Published October 1, 2021

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a condition characterized by lightheadedness or dizziness when standing and a racing heart. The underlying cause is not known, although it sometimes follows bedrest after injury or illness. Recently, POTS has been diagnosed in some people who have had COVID-19.

Why try for a vaginal birth after a cesarean?

Published September 30, 2021

In the US, nearly a third of babies born arrive by cesarean delivery, and once a person has had a cesarean birth, the odds increase that any subsequent babies will be delivered the same way. Why is trying for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) helpful and how has a calculator intended to predict the likelihood of successful outcomes changed to help discourage health disparities?

Is metformin a wonder drug?

Published September 29, 2021

Metformin, a medicine prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes, also has cardiovascular benefits and is used off-label to treat other conditions. Interest is growing in its potential to help lower risks for other serious health problems and even slow aspects of aging, but which of these benefits, if any, apply to people who do not have diabetes?

 

 

Poverty, homelessness, and social stigma make addiction more deadly

Published September 28, 2021

Addiction can affect anyone, but social determinants of health — the factors that influence a person’s circumstances in life — can have a negative impact on a person’s efforts to overcome addiction.  Poverty, employment status, education level, and systemic racism can make it harder for people to reach and maintain recovery.

Sugar: How sweet it is... or is it?

Published September 27, 2021

As more Americans are considered obese, including children, a study examined what effect a voluntary reduction in the sugar content of foods would have on rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and health care costs. But in the absence of such a change, there are ways you can reduce your sugar intake without having to give up sweet treats entirely.

Cardiovascular safety from prostate cancer drugs remains uncertain

Published September 24, 2021

Worldwide, over one million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, and half will be given androgen deprivation therapy at some point. Whether certain types of this therapy are safer for the heart than others is an important question that is being studied, but the results from the first such trial were inconclusive and disappointing.

Rising alcohol use among older adults

Published September 24, 2021

In recent years alcohol use by older adults has been trending upward, particularly among women. Drinking too much alcohol can have negative consequences on physical and mental health, and age-related changes in the body can place older adults who drink at additional risk.

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