Cold and Flu

Is hand sanitizer better at preventing the flu than soap and water?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

In an eight-month study of toddlers in day care, researchers compared handwashing with soap and water to frequent and rigorous use of hand sanitizer. While the results were better for the hand sanitizer group, the study conditions may not reflect real-world hand hygiene.

This year’s flu season: Public health catastrophe or par for the course?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

This winter flu activity has been higher than usual across the United States. If you have not gotten a flu shot yet, it’s not too late; some protection is better than none, plus there are other steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you.

When to worry about your child’s sore throat

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Sore throats are common in children, often occurring with colds, but there are situations when a sore throat is an indication of a more serious problem and you should call the child’s doctor.

The flu is here — and so is a new advisory from the CDC

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

If you have not yet gotten a flu shot, the CDC has issued an advisory for this season that may make you reconsider. The severity of the virus is stronger this year, and while the vaccine may not be as effective as in years past, some protection is better than none.

Is “man flu” really a thing?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The concept of “man flu” sounds like a joke or a ploy for sympathy, but men and women do experience other diseases and conditions differently, and there is some evidence that this is also true of the influenza virus.

What’s new with the flu shot?

Dominic Wu, MD

Contributing Editor

If you are planning to get a flu shot but have not yet done so, it may be worth waiting a little longer, as data on patients from four recent flu seasons found that protection against the virus declined over the course of the winter.

Flu shots during pregnancy

A recent small study linked the flu shot during pregnancy with an increased risk for miscarriage. However it did not establish that the flu shot causes miscarriage. Despite these results, pregnant women should be reassured that the benefits of getting a flu shot outweigh any potential risk.

10 things parents should know about flu shots

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Even though it’s only the beginning of September, parents should be thinking about scheduling flu shots for their children (and themselves). Here’s the latest information everyone needs to know about getting vaccinated.

When to worry about your child’s fever

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Children get sick, so it’s not unusual for a child to have a fever. Most of the time it isn’t serious, but there are times when parents should be concerned about a fever.

Most cases of pink eye (conjunctivitis) don’t require antibiotics

Mallika Marshall, MD

Contributing Editor

While bacterial conjunctivitis responds to antibiotic treatment, many people with the more common viral type are prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily, which contributes to increased resistance to these medications.