Archive for October, 2016

The latest on glucosamine/chondroitin supplements

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

Despite a lack of conclusive evidence, millions of Americans take glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for joint protection or relief from arthritis pain. While these supplements are considered safe, they are not regulated the way prescription drugs are and can cause side effects.

Older men: Rethinking a healthy sex life

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

Though sexuality changes with age, this should not hinder older men from being sexually active. It may be helpful for men to reframe how they think about sex, focusing less on the outcome and more on the experience and pleasure of shared intimacy.

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.

Is there a way to lower the cost of an EpiPen?

Celia Smoak Spell
Celia Smoak Spell, Assistant Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The lifesaving medication contained in an EpiPen is not expensive; the high cost is due mainly to the injector. Competing devices have not been successful so far, and no generic alternative is yet available. Finding ways to mandate that insurance fully cover the medication may not really bring the price down.

Where do the candidates stand on the health and well-being of children?

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

Take the time to become informed on the each candidate’s policies and plans to support and protect children. The American Academy of Pediatrics asked the presidential candidates to answer four questions on children’s health and well-being. The answers should be important to all voters.

Many ways to lower cholesterol will reduce heart disease risk

Deepak Bhatt, MD, MPH

Research shows that lowering cholesterol using a variety of approaches–including medications and diet–can lower the chances of having a cardiovascular event, including a heart attack. For people at high risk for a heart attack, cholesterol-lowering statins are usually the first-line treatment. For people who can’t take statins, other drugs may help.

Flu news: Now most people with egg allergies can get a flu shot

Wynne Armand, MD
Wynne Armand, MD, Contributing Editor

If you have been avoiding the flu shot because you’re allergic to eggs, studies suggest that you can safely get vaccinated. Allergic reactions to the flu shot are quite rare. If you’ve never had a reaction to a flu shot, protect yourself by getting one this year. Ideally do it in a doctor’s office or hospital so that you can get prompt treatment in the unlikely event you have an immediate, severe reaction.

Staying active at “that time of the month”

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

The belief that women should avoid exercise or athletics during their menstrual periods, because it can affect performance or increase the risk of injury, is not necessarily true. Good training may reduce the risks of injury and enhance performance much more than trying to time exercise around one’s periods.

The 2 reasons your child needs to get a flu shot this season

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

It’s especially important for children to get flu shots, both because the flu can hit the young with particular severity, and because of the potential to pass the illness to others.

Medical errors: Honesty is the best policy

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

Medical errors are responsible for several hundred thousand deaths per year, and the tendency has been to keep quiet about them. Doctors and institutions should embrace greater openness about errors in order to learn from them and improve healthcare for everyone.