Tests and procedures

When should I be concerned about ringing in my ears?

James Naples, MD

Contributor

Tinnitus is a term used to describe a ringing or noise in the ears. While not usually a serious medical condition, the distress it produces can often disrupt people’s lives. Understanding the condition and its symptoms will help determine how best to treat it.

Why medical research keeps changing its mind

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

When a medical study announces findings that seem to say the opposite of what’s been understood and accepted about a particular condition or treatment, it can make you question all medical news. A study aimed to determine just how frequently this happens, and with which conditions.

How to help your baby through shots and blood tests

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Vaccinations and blood draws for testing are painful moments for babies. But there are things parents can do to help their baby get through these procedures more easily.

Wearables and sleep: What can they really tell us?

Many people now wear smartwatches and other wrist-based devices, and use them to collect and track information about their sleep. But the algorithms that govern how the devices work are opaque, and there is no data comparing them to devices that sleep researchers use.

Drills, needles, and pain, oh my! Coping with dental anxiety

Does the mere thought of going to the dentist make you anxious? You aren’t alone, but avoiding dental care appointments can lead to other health problems besides dental pain. But there are steps you can take to relieve that anxiety.

Is there really a blood test to diagnose concussion?

Eve Valera, PhD

Contributor

Can a blood test tell whether or not you have a concussion? It’s not quite that simple. There is a test that indicates the presence of substances released into the blood after a brain injury, but for now it is more useful for identifying situations when a CT scan is not necessary.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A new treatment for knee arthritis

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A TV ad for a procedure to treat arthritis of the knee claims that relief lasts for up to a year, but not much research has been done on its effectiveness. Studies are small and show little to support the claim.

Gene testing to guide antidepressant treatment: Has its time arrived?

Commercial gene tests claim to offer guidance in choosing appropriate medications to treat depression. As yet, no evidence supports this claim.

Dense breasts on a mammogram? What to know and do

Mammograms look for signs of breast cancer. They can also provide information on whether a woman has high breast density, which slightly increases risk for developing breast cancer. Here’s what you need to know and do if you’re notified about this risk factor.

Is there a test for Alzheimer’s disease?

Wondering whether a blood test or brain scan can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease? If memory loss is a problem for you or a loved one, consider these points before discussing potential next steps with a doctor.