Archive for September, 2016

Need an appointment right away? Consider a virtual doctor visit

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

The availability of virtual doctor visits via computer or mobile device offers consumers the convenience of a remote consultation at any time, and at a reasonable cost, with the caveat that certain types of medical issues require an in-person visit. Virtual visits aren’t meant to replace every trip to the doctor’s office, but may be a good option for minor, temporary problems.

The most important health problems (and why they matter)

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

Data from the CDC and elsewhere examining death rates and causes shows that the most common causes of death are not necessarily the ones of greatest concern to Americans. Understanding the causes of death is important, not only because of what they may say about how we live, but also to find ways to increase longevity.

Genital herpes: The painful facts about a tricky virus

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

While most people know that genital herpes is transmitted through sexual contact, many people don’t realize that it’s possible to carry the virus and infect others without showing outward symptoms or even being aware that they have it. A person with confirmed genital herpes can take medication to help decrease the chances of spreading the virus. However, it’s no guarantee, so it’s best to have a frank conversation with a new sexual partner.

2 simple ways to ensure you give your kids the right dose of medicine (lots of parents don’t)

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

It’s surprisingly easy to give a child an incorrect dosage of liquid medication, and many parents do. When giving medication to a child, be sure you understand the instructions and use a medication syringe rather than a dosing cup. Take the extra time to read and think, and ask questions. These simple steps can make all the difference.

MRSA: The not-so-famous superbug

Michaela Kane
Michaela Kane, Contributor

The MRSA bacteria is not uncommon, and people can become seriously ill when MRSA infections go unchecked. Unfortunately, MRSA can be particularly difficult to treat because it easily adapts to become resistant to antibiotics. Although these infections occur primarily in hospitals, they can also occur in close or crowded conditions where it’s possible to come in contact with an infected wound, or if personal items are shared. Signs of MRSA should be reported to your doctor right away. Luckily, careful hygiene and hand washing can help you avoid this troublesome infection.

Shift stress to calm: An “inner family” affair

Margaret Moore, MBA
Margaret Moore, MBA, Contributor

The new book Organize Your Emotions, Optimize Your Life proposes that the human psyche has nine life forces speaking as our “inner voices,” each with its own agenda and emotions. Learning to listen and respond to those voices can help you shift your stress to a sense of balance.

Resetting your circadian clock to minimize jet lag

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Traveling across multiple time zones is likely to induce symptoms of jet lag, but making some adjustments before and while traveling can alleviate or minimize the discomfort. One theory suggests that a brief fast may help reset circadian rhythm.

The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger

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

Basic push-ups engage your body from top to bottom. They work several muscle groups at once including the arms, chest, abdomen (core), hips, and legs. How many you can do at one time offers a simple way to evaluate your strength and muscular endurance and is an easy tool to help you improve. To find your starting point, perform as many push-ups as you can with good form.

Why we need to make it harder for parents to refuse vaccines

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

Choosing to vaccinate a child — or not — doesn’t just affect that child, but also undermines the concept of herd immunity that protects others in the community from the spread of certain diseases.

Thinking about joining a clinical trial? Here’s what you need to know

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

People enroll in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Some hope to try a new or innovative treatment. Others hope to advance knowledge about a disease. If you’re interested in volunteering for a clinical trial, you should understand the type of study you’d be participating in and know the potential risks.