Archive for May, 2017

3 reasons to leave earwax alone

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Many people don’t realize that cleaning their ears with a cotton swab is not a good idea. Doing so can be harmful, and the ears are self-cleaning anyway.

8 things to watch for when your child has a headache

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Childhood headaches are typically not cause for undue concern, but there are circumstances when a headache should prompt a call to your child’s doctor.

Over-the-counter pain relievers and your heart

As the evidence mounts linking use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with increased risk of heart failure or cardiac arrest, consumers need to be aware of the risks involved in taking these medications.

Diet not working? Maybe it’s not your type

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Blood type diets, which maintain that food choices and fitness routines should be based on a person’s blood type, were first popularized over two decades ago, but in that time no firm scientific evidence to support the claims has emerged.

To PSA test or not to PSA test: That is the discussion

The recommended guidelines for whether men should have the prostate cancer screening test have changed in recent years. A man considering the test should talk with his doctor and understand all the pros and cons involved.

Taking medicines like you’re supposed to: Why is it so hard?

Remembering to take medication regularly and consistently is a challenge. While various devices and strategies have been studied, sometimes the best approach is simply linking to another task that needs to be remembered.

Don’t let the screens take over: 8 tips for families

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

It’s a good idea for parents to monitor, and limit, their children’s overall daily screen time. Here’s some advice for parents on how to manage this challenge effectively, with each child’s healthy and balanced development in mind.

5 research-backed lessons on what makes a happy life

A lifelong study of several hundred men is providing valuable information about how childhood circumstances and life choices influence happiness throughout a person’s life. For example, the sting of a difficult childhood need not derail a rewarding adult life.

Opioid addiction: Long-term treatment for a chronic condition

Studies suggest that extended medication-assisted treatment is more effective in treating opioid addiction than short term use. This strategy may prove an important part of addressing the opioid crisis.

Secret to brain success: Intelligent cognitive rest

Srini Pillay, MD


The ability to train one’s mind to activate the “unfocus” part of the brain, also called the default mode network, can help improve creativity and unlock access to the unconscious mind.