Harvard Health Blog

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


4 things everyone needs to know about measles

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can cause serious health complications in some people. It's also highly preventable through vaccination. Here are the facts that everyone — especially parents — needs to know about measles.

Is chronic fatigue syndrome all in your brain?

A new study from the National Institutes of Health has performed more diverse and extensive biological measurements of people experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome than any previous research. Here's what they found and what it means.

One more reason to brush your teeth?

New research suggests that people who are hospitalized in an intensive care unit are far less likely to develop pneumonia if their teeth are brushed twice daily. They also need ventilators for less time, are able to leave the ICU more quickly, and are less likely to die in the ICU.

Do children get migraine headaches? What parents need to know

Headaches are very common in children and teens. We don't tend to think about children getting migraines, but by age 10 one in 20 children has had one. Symptoms may differ from adults and it's important for parents to understand triggers, helpful treatments, and possible red flags.

Does sleeping with an eye mask improve learning and alertness?

Our internal clocks regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and light establishes when we should feel wakeful or sleepy. Light exposure at night affects these natural processes, so researchers studied whether wearing an eye mask while sleeping might help learning and alertness.

Does drinking water before meals really help you lose weight?

If you've ever tried to lose weight, you've probably heard the advice to drink water before a meal because it makes you feel fuller and you'll stop eating sooner. It seems like a reasonable idea — but does it work? And if it doesn't, why do people think it does?

Still confused after Flovent discontinuation? What to know and do

Until recently, many people with asthma used a medicine called Flovent. It has been discontinued by its manufacturer, leaving users with questions about what to substitute and which medicines their insurance will cover.

Flowers, chocolates, organ donation — are you in?

February 14th is more than Valentine's Day –– it's also National Donor Day, when health organizations sponsor sign-ups for organ and tissue donation. For those in need, such a donation can be life-changing — or lifesaving. If you wonder what can be donated or how, read on.

New research shows little risk of infection from prostate biopsies

Infections after a prostate biopsy are rare, but they do occur. There are two ways to perform such a biopsy, with the one at higher risk of infection more common in the US. Researchers conducted a trial designed to compare the safety of the two methods.

Discrimination at work is linked to high blood pressure

A new study finds that experiencing discrimination in the workplace—where many adults spend one-third of their time, on average—may be harmful to heart health.

What is a tongue-tie? What parents need to know

A band of tissue helps secure the tongue to the front of the mouth. If it is short, it can restrict movement of the tongue. This is called a tongue-tie. Having a tongue-tie is not necessarily a problem — but there are exceptions that parents should be aware of.

Which migraine medications are most helpful?

Many medications claim to relieve migraine pain, but some are more helpful than others. In a large study looking at real-world data on 25 drugs, migraine sufferers rated the most and least helpful options.

How well do you score on brain health?

Many efforts to improve health are also good for the brain. A study of nearly 400,000 people led researchers to develop a scorecard assessing 12 factors that contribute to the risk of dementia or stroke, making it easy to see where you're doing well and where you might do better.

Shining light on night blindness

Night blindness makes it hard to see in dim or dark settings, which can affect safety at home and make driving dangerous after dark. While the cause varies, there are steps people can take to address these problems.

Can watching sports be bad for your health?

Can watching sports –– not just the rough and tumble of playing them –– be harmful to your health? Whether you're at a live event or clicking through channels, it may be riskier than you think when weather, stress, and racing heart rates are factored in. Here's a game day plan that can help.

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

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.

Beyond the usual suspects for healthy resolutions

By now many people have started working on –– or at least thinking about –– healthy changes they want to make in the new year. Here are 10 simple ways to move beyond typical resolutions about losing weight, eating better, and exercising more.

Dialectical behavior therapy: What is it and who can it help?

Emotional dysregulation is a hallmark of many mental health conditions. A treatment known as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) focuses on teaching people to manage intense emotions, cope with challenging situations, and improve their relationships.

A mindful way to help manage type 2 diabetes?

Lifestyle changes like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep are cornerstones of self-care for people with type 2 diabetes. But can mind-body practices help people manage or even treat type 2 diabetes? An analysis of multiple studies suggests they might.

Why do your prescription drugs cost so much?

The cost of a prescription drug can be very high, and several factors contribute to this. What can consumers do to reduce their drug costs, and what changes need to be made to make medications more affordable?

A fresh look at risks for developing young-onset dementia

Young-onset dementia, which occurs in people younger than age 65, is uncommon. A new study has identified 15 factors linked to a higher risk of young-onset dementia.

Plyometrics: Three explosive exercises even beginners can try

Plyometric training involves short, intense bursts of activity that target fast-twitch muscle fibers in the lower body that generate power for increased speed and jumping height. Doing plyometric exercises can boost strength, power, and agility.

New guidelines aim to screen millions more for lung cancer

Lung cancer kills more Americans than any other cancer. The latest guidelines from the American Cancer Society aim to reduce deaths by considerably expanding the pool of people who seek annual, low-dose CT lung screening scans.

Could men with advanced prostate cancer avoid chemotherapy?

Men with advanced prostate cancer are typically treated with hormonal treatments followed by chemotherapy, but a recent study evaluated the potential of a treatment that uses radioactive particles injected into the body.

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