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Harvard Health Blog

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Articles

Does air pollution cause Alzheimer’s disease?

Published July 23, 2020

It has been known for some time that air pollution causes heart and lung diseases. Now, results from three different studies on populations in different parts of the world show an association between higher levels of air pollution and greater risk of cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Healthy headphone use: How loud and how long?

Published July 22, 2020

Headphones and earbuds are nearly ubiquitous, but how often do people think about whether or not they are using them safely? Knowing about safe listening levels and safe length of listening time will help people protect themselves while using their listening devices.

Vaccines for COVID-19 moving closer

Published July 21, 2020

Scientists around the world are trying to engineer safe, effective, long-lasting vaccines to help the body block the virus that causes COVID-19. Three vaccine approaches out of more than 100 are among the first to be tested clinically in the United States.

How can I know if my penicillin allergy is real?

Published July 20, 2020

People who are allergic to penicillin are often given less effective medications that can make them more susceptible to infections, but many people who believe they are allergic to penicillin are not. New techniques are allowing medical providers to assess whether or not a person has a true penicillin allergy.

Metabolic syndrome is on the rise: What it is and why it matters

Published July 17, 2020

Because metabolic syndrome boosts the risk of developing several serious health problems, a troubling rise in rates of occurrence of metabolic syndrome among certain segments of the US population is of great concern.

Gender differences in cardiovascular disease: Women are less likely to be prescribed certain heart medications

Published July 16, 2020

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of both women and men in the US, but despite the significant impact it has on women, awareness and education for women’s heart disease has historically been low. A recent meta-analysis found that women were significantly less likely to be prescribed common medications for CVD.

Envisioning food security: Steps we take now can help

Published July 15, 2020

Along with historically high unemployment rates, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant increase in food insecurity for millions of Americans, and this problem disproportionately affects lower-income people and racial and ethnic minorities. Temporary measures have helped a bit to ease the situation, and new proposals could do more.

How risky is using a public bathroom during the pandemic?

Published July 14, 2020

If you are wondering whether it’s safe to use a public restroom with the specter of COVID-19 hanging over us, your skepticism is justified. But maybe a restroom is just as safe (or unsafe) as any other indoor space at the moment. And there are things you can do to make your restroom visit less risky.

A new hormonal therapy for prostate cancer is under expedited FDA review

Published July 13, 2020

In June, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an accelerated review of a promising new drug for advanced prostate cancer. Called relugolix, it suppresses testosterone and other hormones that speed the cancer’s growth. If approved, this new type of hormonal therapy is expected to set a new standard of care for the disease. […]

Tinted sunscreens: Benefits beyond an attractive glow

Published July 13, 2020

Tinted sunscreens offer all the benefits of traditional sun protection products, plus they have added pigments that give them the ability to block visible light, which can also be harmful to the skin.

Can a daily pill lighten heavy menstrual bleeding caused by fibroids?

Published July 10, 2020

Many women develop benign uterine fibroids, which may cause heavy menstrual bleeding, a problem that may be more severe among Black women. A new daily medication approved by the FDA may help some women by lightening blood loss during monthly periods.

Epinephrine is the only effective treatment for anaphylaxis

Published July 09, 2020

Many people have experienced mild allergic reactions to a food, medication, or other allergen, but a severe reaction can be harmful or even fatal. Anaphylaxis must be treated with epinephrine as quickly as possible, followed by a visit to a hospital emergency room for observation.

How to make the most of your child’s telehealth visit

Published July 08, 2020

Telehealth visits are going to be with us for the foreseeable future, and this includes children seeing their pediatricians. Parents can take steps before and during their child’s “exam” to help things go more smoothly and get the most out of the time with the doctor.

When lockdown is not actually safer: Intimate partner violence during COVID-19

Published July 07, 2020

For women living with abusive partners, the COVID-19 pandemic has made an already difficult and dangerous situation even worse. And even if a woman had been thinking about leaving an abusive situation or planning to leave, with current restrictions she may not be able to.

Functional dyspepsia: Causes, treatments, and new directions

Published July 06, 2020

Functional dyspepsia is a digestive condition without a clear cause, characterized by a feeling of fullness or a burning sensation. Depending on test results and symptoms, treatment may involve a course of antibiotics, a proton pump inhibitor, or a low dose of a tricyclic antidepressant.

Making telemedicine more inclusive

Published July 03, 2020

As coronavirus cases multiplied, many medical offices and clinics shifted to seeing patient virtually through telemedicine. While its value quickly became obvious, virtual visits are not optimal for everyone who needs health care. Awareness of limitations can help care providers improve access to their services.

What should you do during a psychiatric medication shortage?

Published July 02, 2020

With the increased stress caused by the the COVID-19 pandemic, prescriptions for medications to treat mental illnesses have increased, leading to potential shortages of certain psychiatric medications. This means that some people might need to discuss their options with their prescribing clinician.

Protesting in the time of COVID-19

Published July 01, 2020

Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and has worsened in some parts of the country, the rate of infection among those involved in recent protests has been low, because the events were outside and participants generally followed guidelines for wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

Marijuana may be risky for your heart

Published July 01, 2020

Growing numbers of Americans are using some form of marijuana, including edibles and other products. But evidence is emerging that it can be harmful to the heart: it can cause a faster heartbeat and a rise in blood pressure, and chemicals in it can affect medications used to treat heart disease.

How to help your young child cope with the pandemic

Published June 30, 2020

It’s easy to think that the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed life much for younger children, but it has, and they certainly notice their parents’ or caregivers’ behavior. There are no easy solutions, but there are definitely things parents can do to help their children understand what’s happening, and cope.

Can controlling blood pressure later in life reduce risk of dementia?

Published June 29, 2020

An analysis of multiple studies looking at the relationship between high blood pressure and cognitive health –– abilities like thinking, memory, and attention –– found that older people who lower high blood pressure are slightly less likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia.

Brain plasticity in drug addiction: Burden and benefit

Published June 26, 2020

The brain’s neuroplasticity — its ability to adapt and change — makes it possible for us to learn new skills and solve complex problems, but it also makes some people more vulnerable to the consequences of substance use disorders. This same ability also makes it possible for a person to make cognitive modifications in order to change an addictive behavior.

How risky is a hug right now?

Published June 25, 2020

Even as we are moving toward re-establishing some normal activities, and as much as we might want to, it still feels risky to hug another person. Is there a way to do this safely? Is it worth the risk?

Autoimmune lung disease: Early recognition and treatment helps

Published June 24, 2020

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body generates an immune response against itself. Some people with rheumatic or autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, develop an autoimmune lung disease. Marked by lung inflammation and possible scarring, it’s easier to treat if detected early.