Tests and procedures

Worried about sleep apnea? Home-based testing is now the norm

Sleep apnea robs people of high-quality sleep, increases the risk of heart problems, and puts people at higher risk of accidents. While an overnight stay in a sleep lab used to be required to diagnose sleep apnea, now this testing often can be done at home.

Which test is best for COVID-19?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

So much about testing for COVID-19 is confusing — from the types and number of tests available to woefully incomplete information about testing and the changing options. Understanding the current choices can help you make an informed decision about how to proceed if you want to be tested.

Treating mild sleep apnea: Should you consider a CPAP device?

Obstructive sleep apnea affects an estimated 20% of the population, and if untreated it has negative effects on cardiac and metabolic health as well as quality of life. If the condition is moderate or severe, a CPAP machine is the first-line treatment, but there is less consensus about treatment of mild OSA.

Helping people with autism spectrum disorder manage masks and COVID-19 tests

Robyn Thom, MD

Contributor

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many new challenges for people with autism spectrum disorder. Adapting to wearing face masks and the experience of a COVID-19 test are particularly challenging, but there are strategies that can help these individuals meet the challenges.

Are there benefits of cardiac catheterization for stable coronary artery disease?

In patients with acute coronary syndrome, studies have shown that cardiac catheterization can decrease heart attacks and improve survival. A recent study attempted to determine if the procedure would have comparable results in people with a more stable form of coronary artery disease.

Your headaches are getting worse. Do you need an imaging test?

Headaches have many possible causes, and proper management requires accurate diagnosis. Someone with increasingly severe headaches would want to have a brain imaging test to determine the underlying causes, but such tests are more effective in certain situations than others.

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

Senior 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

Senior 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.