Harvard Health Blog

Join the discussion with experts from Harvard Health Publications and others like you on a variety of health topics, medical news and views.

Chronic illness is a part-time job. It shouldn’t be

Laura Kiesel
Laura Kiesel, Contributor

As currently structured, the American health care system makes it very difficult for those with chronic illnesses to manage their conditions, causing them to perform the equivalent of unpaid labor.

6 ways to keep your child safe this summer

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

With all the outdoor activities available to kids during the summer, it’s a good idea to take a moment to consider these tips to make sure everyone plays and stays safe.

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

Mallika Marshall, MD
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.

This is your brain on alcohol

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Moderate drinking may have negative long-term effects on the brain’s health, but as yet the research is inconclusive, and must be weighed alongside the evidence that moderate alcohol consumption benefits the heart. If you’re a moderate or light drinker trying to decide whether to cut back for health reasons, you probably want to consider a variety of factors.

How to get people to eat more vegetables: Change how you describe them

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Researchers tested the appeal of vegetables by using different types of labels to describe them in a college cafeteria setting. They found that more evocative and colorful descriptions encouraged greater consumption than ones that highlighted the nutritional aspects.

Taming the pain of sciatica: For most people, time heals and less is more

Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

While not as common as other types of back pain, sciatica can cause intense discomfort, but often the best course of treatment involves controlling the pain and keeping active while the condition subsides.

Think your child has a penicillin allergy? Maybe not.

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Because diagnosis of drug allergies is often done based on symptoms but without testing, many people who believe they are allergic to antibiotics such as penicillin do not in fact have the allergy.

More evidence that exercise helps keep your brain fit

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A review of dozens of studies on the benefits of exercise on cognitive health concluded that, for those over 50, just about any form of activity is beneficial if performed regularly.

Stay safe in (and on) the water

Celia Smoak Spell
Celia Smoak Spell, Assistant Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Pools, beaches, and boats are great ways to enjoy leisure time in the summer. Following some simple precautions will make your water activities safer for everyone.

Here’s something completely different for low back pain

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

With recently revised guidelines recommending that people with low back pain not take medication, it’s natural to wonder: what should I do, then? There are many options, among them heat, massage, yoga, and acupuncture.