Archive for November, 2020

Migraine headaches: Could nerve stimulation help?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Millions of people suffer from migraines, and research has been trying to understand what causes them. A current theory involves branches of the trigeminal nerve. Now the FDA has cleared an over-the-counter device to prevent or treat migraine by stimulating this nerve with mild electrical shocks.

College student coming home? What to know and do

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Due to the pandemic, many college students are coming home at Thanksgiving for an extended winter break. Having anyone reenter your household as COVID-19 cases rise across the US is challenging, and requires thought and planning to keep everyone safe — and sane. Here’s what families need to think about.

Birth control and high blood pressure: Which methods are safe for you?

Huma Farid, MD


Doctors typically recommend that women who have high blood pressure avoid using birth control that contains estrogen to avoid raising risks for a stroke or heart attack. According to a clinical update, this recommendation may be changing for some women with high blood pressure.

Quarantine snacking fixer-upper

Eating more than you should since the start of the pandemic, especially unhealthy, highly processed snack foods? If you’re looking for advice on how to break your snacking habits and form new, better habits with healthier snacks, try these tips.

A new Alzheimer’s drug: From advisory panel to FDA — what’s at stake here?

The FDA is in the process of deciding whether to approve a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s. Two large clinical trials produced contradictory results, but other factors will affect the decision, including cost, incidence of side effects, the drug’s effectiveness, and more.

Drugstore skincare: Science-backed anti-aging ingredients that don’t break the bank

Treating age-related skin changes does not require an investment in expensive products, or a visit to a dermatologist. Products available in drugstores with proven ingredients and without a prescription can help with various skin issues or problems.

How to recognize a ministroke or stroke — and what to do

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or ministroke, is caused by a temporary lack of blood in part of the brain, usually from a clot. The fleeting symptoms of a TIA can be a warning of risk for an imminent, more serious stroke. In the event of a stroke, getting help immediately is crucial, and knowing the signs will make that more likely.

Does lupus or arthritis affect your prognosis if you get COVID-19?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

People with certain chronic conditions are at increased risk for severe COVID-19. These include a compromised immune system, which can happen for a number of reasons. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus take drugs that suppress the immune system, and new research examined the risks associated with such a situation.

Early birds may be more active, but night owls can catch up

Researchers measuring activity levels found that people who tend to go to bed later and sleep later also tend to get less physical activity, compared to early risers. However, these results don’t mean that being a night owl is the cause of getting less activity, or that such behavior can’t be changed.

Type 2 diabetes: Which medication is best for me?

Samar Hafida, MD


When diet and exercise are not enough for a person with diabetes to manage their blood sugar, one or more medications may be needed. Adding a second medication can offer additional benefits beyond blood sugar control, but the benefits and risks of these newer classes of drugs must be weighed for each person.