Infectious diseases

Cough and cold season is arriving: Choose medicines safely

Millions of Americans get coughs and colds during the winter, and many head to the drugstore to pick up one of the hundreds of common medicines available without a prescription. But those products often contain multiple active ingredients that are potentially unsafe if combined. Here’s how to safely choose the right over-the-counter medication for your symptoms.

Vaccines for COVID-19 moving closer

Scientists around the world are trying to engineer safe, effective, long-lasting vaccines to help the body block the virus that causes COVID-19. Three vaccine approaches out of more than 100 are among the first to be tested clinically in the United States.

How risky is using a public bathroom during the pandemic?

Steve Calechman

Contributor

If you are wondering whether it’s safe to use a public restroom with the specter of COVID-19 hanging over us, your skepticism is justified. But maybe a restroom is just as safe (or unsafe) as any other indoor space at the moment. And there are things you can do to make your restroom visit less risky.

Daily decisions about risk: What to do when there’s no right answer

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

With COVID-19 cases still rising in many places, all of us must make daily decisions involving personal risk. But often, there’s no single right answer that applies to everyone. Here’s how to make sensible decisions around many different activities.

Summer’s here, teens and parents — now what?

For many teens, summer activities like jobs, internships, and camps are probably on hold this year, and a sense of uncertainty hovers over nearly everything. How can parents guide teens and help them flourish while also keeping them safe?

Driving across the country in a pandemic

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Driving halfway across the country may not seem enticing these days, but at the moment traveling by car is arguably safer than traveling by plane. If you’re considering a road trip, some planning will make things easier — and safer.

How to socialize in a pandemic

Some social distancing will be needed for many more months, or even years, to keep the coronavirus at bay. But abstaining from all social contact for the long haul won’t be a sustainable option for most people. So, how can we make decisions about socializing safely?

Bracing for contact tracing

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

As states reopen, contact tracing — locating and testing people known to have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 — will be an important tool to help contain further spread of illness. But how does it work, and what do you need to know about it?

New warning on coronavirus symptoms in children — what parents need to know

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A rare syndrome in some children that affects the heart and other organs may be a reaction to a current or past COVID-19 infection, but test results for the coronavirus are sometimes negative.

No spleen? What you need to know to stay healthy

Wendy Stead, MD

Contributor

You don’t need your spleen to live a normal, healthy life, but the spleen does play an important role in defending the body against infection, so those without it need to take certain precautions to ensure they remain healthy.