Lung disease

Vaping: It’s hard to quit, but help is available

As companies developed e-cigarette products, little or no consideration was given to their safety, and research on how to help people who want to quit has lagged. But if you are motivated to quit vaping, there are options and you should talk to a doctor.

Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don’t) know

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Reports of severe lung illness experienced by hundreds of people who were using e-cigarettes again raise questions about the safety of vaping. While evidence suggests vaping can help some people stop smoking, potential health risks likely outweigh any benefit.

Lowering nicotine in cigarettes

Mallika Marshall, MD

Contributing Editor

With the intent of making cigarettes less addictive, the FDA has proposed lowering nicotine levels, which could also make it easier for smokers to quit.

Expert advice on how to quit smoking

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

People who are serious about quitting smoking want to know the most effective methods for doing so. For most people this is likely to be a combination of behavior strategies and medications, including nicotine replacement products that can be taken with other smoking cessation drugs.

The tricky thing about asthma

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

While a new study found that a significant percentage of people who had been diagnosed with asthma did not meet the official criteria for a diagnosis, the behavior of asthma can make diagnosing it a challenge.

Antibiotics don’t speed recovery from asthma attacks

Nandini Mani, MD

Contributing Editor

Winter is often a tough season for asthma sufferers, who generally more likely to become sick than those without asthma. It’s important for asthma patients to receive proper care when ill, and a recent study sheds new light on a common treatment that might not be the best course of action for most asthmatics.

Bronchiolitis: What parents of infants need to know

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

While all babies get colds, bronchiolitis, a respiratory infection that works its way into the lungs. Treatment is usually “supportive,” which means steps to relieve the symptoms, and most babies start to get better after a week or so. But bronchiolitis can make some babies very sick, so parents need to be alert for signs of worsening illness.

When a cough just won’t go away

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

There are a number of conditions that can cause a cough to linger for weeks or months. Doctors treating patients with a chronic cough should consider both the more likely and less common possibilities. When a cough persists after those possibilities have been ruled out or treated, new research suggests that irritated nerve ending in the “cough centers” of the airways could be behind a chronic cough.

3 things you might not know about childhood asthma

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

For children with asthma and their parents, it’s important to understand what the symptoms mean and why a proper diagnosis matters, so that the right treatment can be prescribed for each child.

Just what is pneumonia, anyway?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

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.