Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.

Articles

Can music improve our health and quality of life?

Humans' relationship with music is complex and individual, and there are times when music can have a clear and immediate impact on our well-being. Music therapy uses music as a therapeutic tool to address certain health care goals.

Millions rely on wheelchairs for mobility, but repair delays are hurting users

Wheelchairs allow millions of Americans with mobility disability to participate in daily activities and engage in community life. But when a wheelchair needs to be repaired, delays can mean a person is unable to leave their home or manage daily tasks for days.

Waist trainers: What happens when you uncinch?

Splashy advertisements suggest that compression devices called waist trainers can help you sculpt inches off your waistline. The claims far outweigh the evidence, but exercises that strengthen core muscles can also help shape your waist.

Preventing C. diff in and out of the hospital

The bacteria C. diff is responsible for half a million infections each year in the US. Many infections happen when people are hospitalized, but a recent report indicated that people can be infected without ever being hospitalized.

Managing weight gain from psychiatric medications

A side effect of many psychiatric medications is weight gain. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety and sleep medications, and mood stabilizers can all affect metabolism in ways that lead to increased weight, so it's important to know what you can do to lessen this unwanted effect.

Inflammatory bowel disease and family planning: What you need to know

Inflammatory bowel disease is commonly diagnosed at a point in life when many people are planning families. People who have been diagnosed with IBD are likely to have questions and concerns regarding fertility, conception, pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.

Can a vegan diet treat rheumatoid arthritis?

A recent study suggested a vegan diet is an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and its lead author also said that people should try changing their eating patterns before turning to medication. But there is no evidence that changes in diet can prevent joint damage that occurs in rheumatoid arthritis.

A refresher on childhood asthma: What families should know and do

Asthma is the most common chronic lung disease in children, and it can make life more difficult and less enjoyable for both children and their parents. The good news is that asthma is very treatable; here's what families need to know.

Melasma: What are the best treatments?

Melasma is a skin condition affecting mostly women with darker skin. It cannot be fully prevented in those most likely to develop it, and there is no cure, but consistent sunscreen use is critical, and numerous treatment options are available.

Can an implanted tongue-stimulating device curb your sleep apnea?

A mask-free, implanted device for sleep apnea that works by stimulating the tongue was approved by the FDA in 2014 as a second-choice treatment for people who are unable to tolerate a positive airway pressure machine.

Poliovirus in wastewater: Should we be concerned?

Thanks to vaccination, the US has been polio-free since 1979, and the spread of this disease has been interrupted in most countries. But worldwide eradication of polio has been elusive, and traces of the virus were recently found in wastewater in London.

Recognizing and preventing sun allergies

There are several types of "sun allergies," including polymorphous light eruption (PMLE), hives, and photoallergic reactions. Learn about these different reactions to sun exposure, as well as prevention and treatment.

Corneal transplants becoming more common

While not as routine as cataract surgery, corneal transplants are becoming more common. A number of things can go wrong with the cornea, especially as people get older, and a partial-thickness or full-thickness transplant can restore vision.

An emerging treatment option for men on active surveillance

Active surveillance allows men with low- or intermediate-risk prostate cancer to avoid temporarily the side effects of invasive therapies, but men often feel anxious about their cancer. Emerging evidence suggests there may be a middle path between no treatment and aggressive therapies.

Gun violence: A long-lasting toll on children and teens

As discussion and debate continues on mass shootings there is increasing evidence that growing up amidst this violence and other extreme stressors affect developing brains and bodies in ways that can be permanent.

Adult female acne: Why it happens and the emotional toll

Women are more likely to get acne after age 20 than men. Unfortunately, treatment options that worked in the teenage years may not work as well in adult females. The emotional toll of acne may include a higher risk of developing depression, and having severe acne can negatively affect quality of life.

Untangling grief: Living beyond a great loss

There is no way to prepare for the many shades of grief, which can lead to illness as well as distress. While each person navigates grief differently, the experience of others and broad advice on how to cope may offer comfort.

Thunderstorm asthma: Bad weather, allergies, and asthma attacks

Thunderstorm asthma is an attack that starts or worsens after a thunderstorm. It can occur in anyone with asthma, but it most often affects people with seasonal allergies. There are several risk factors that make experiencing this phenomenon more likely, so it's important to know what these are.

Heart problems and the heat: What to know and do

High temperatures raise risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and also stress the cardiovascular system, making the heart work harder. If you have a heart condition, here's how to keep cool and protect yourself when temperatures rise.

I'm too young to have Alzheimer's disease or dementia, right?

Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are something we think of as diseases of old age. Memory loss is a common symptom, and something that people in midlife also experience — but young onset dementia is very uncommon.

Back pain: Will treatment for the mind, body—or both—help?

Low back pain is a leading cause of disability worldwide. A recent review of dozens of studies suggests that combining physical therapy with psychological approaches to treating pain led to better overall results in improvement of pain.

Colon cancer screening decisions: What's the best option and when?

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and rates are rising, particularly in younger people. It can be prevented with screening tests; there are several different types of tests that are performed in different ways, and guidelines for when testing should begin and how often people should be tested.

Cognitive effects in midlife of long-term cannabis use

As more US states have legalized recreational cannabis or passed medical cannabis laws, public perception that cannabis is a harmless substance is growing. But its long-term benefits and risks remain unclear, and research has revealed consistently that heavy long-term cannabis use can affect cognition in midlife.

If climate change keeps you up at night, here's how to cope

Climate anxiety is distress related to worries about how the effects of climate change. It's more likely to affect adolescents and young adults, leading to chronic stress, depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, and more. What can you do to manage climate anxiety in yourself or a young person in your life?

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