Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

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Articles

Is IBD an underrecognized health problem in minority groups?

Published May 07, 2021

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a treatable condition once considered a disease that largely affects people who are white, although in recent years it has been diagnosed more often in other racial and ethnic groups, in the US and around the world. Recognizing this condition early can make a difference in care and quality of life.

Sickle cell disease in newborns and children: What families should know and do

Published May 06, 2021

Millions of people around the world have sickle cell disease, a genetic condition that can cause pain and damage to organs or tissues, and can make children more susceptible to other health problems. In the US, most cases are diagnosed through screening in newborns. Getting connected to the proper care early in a child’s life can help prevent complications from the disease.

COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know

Updated May 11, 2021

Every day, more and more adults are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, helping us build toward herd immunity. But what about children and teens? What is the status of research on the vaccines in these groups, and when might vaccines be available for them?

Happy trails: Take a hike, now

Published May 04, 2021

After too much time spent indoors (and probably less active than is healthy), getting outside and taking a hike is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying nature. But before you hit the trail, make sure you’re well prepared.

Sleep well — and reduce your risk of dementia and death

Published May 03, 2021

Although it has been known for some time that individuals with dementia frequently have poor, fragmented sleep, two new studies suggest that if you don’t get enough sleep in midlife, you are at increased risk for dementia later in life.

COVID-19 vaccines and the LGBTQ+ community

Updated May 01, 2021

A history of discrimination in multiple settings, including health care, may make some people who identify as LGBTQ+ hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, even though the virus has disproportionately harmed this community. If you're struggling to make a decision, this may help you consider benefits and risks.

Polycystic ovary syndrome and the skin

Published April 29, 2021

Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common cause of infertility in women. In many cases, women with PCOS have skin and hair issues such as acne, hair loss, or excessive hair growth in places where they normally do not have hair. Treatment options vary depending on the symptoms and each woman’s preferences.

Dental appliances for sleep apnea: Do they work?

Published April 28, 2021

Obstructive sleep apnea leaves people tired, but also puts them at risk for other health problems. Not everyone with sleep apnea can use an airway pressure machine, and some may simply prefer not to. There are oral appliances available, but are they effective?

Terrified of needles? That can affect your health

Published April 27, 2021

No one likes being stuck by a needle, and it’s not unusual for a person to be afraid of needles. If it’s serious enough, this phobia can affect quality of life and overall health — an especially important concern with vaccination available for COVID-19. But there are ways to cope with the problem.

Life expectancy: How can we address uneven declines?

Published April 26, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic helped lower life expectancy among all individuals in the US, and this impact has been worse in communities of color. Longstanding systemic failings lead to worse quality of life and poorer health in these communities, but we can all take steps to improve this situation.

Edibles and children: Poison center calls rise

Published April 23, 2021

As more states have legalized the use of marijuana and products derived from it, more children are being exposed. Children can’t be trusted not to eat appealing-looking food items they may find, so it’s up to adults to take precautions and make sure edibles are stored where children can’t find them.

Pills and the planet: Environmentally-friendly steps for your medicine cabinet

Published April 22, 2021

The key factor causing climate change is greenhouse gas emissions, and the health care industry plays a significant role, with drugs and chemicals being the biggest contributor. While the benefits of medications to the world can’t be overstated, here’s how to balance the need for them with concern for the environment.

Diet, disease, and the microbiome

Published April 21, 2021

A healthy microbiome — the genes of tiny organisms living in the digestive tract — helps protect its human host from chronic diseases. Researchers do not yet fully understand the connection, but it appears that eating unprocessed plant-based foods allows the gut microbiome to thrive.

Want healthy eyes? What to know at 40 and beyond

Published April 20, 2021

While eye problems can affect people of any age, some conditions become more common after age 40. Some are normal, or at least expected; others are of greater concern and will require treatment. Here’s how to keep your eyes healthy and address certain problems.

Could COVID-19 infection be responsible for your depressed mood or anxiety?

Updated May 25, 2021

We are still learning about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the brain, but we know that the pandemic has resulted in worsening mental health for many people. A new study confirmed that COVID-19 infection increased the risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

Are antidepressants also pain relievers?

Published April 16, 2021

Antidepressant medications are frequently prescribed for chronic pain, particularly neck or low back pain and certain types of arthritis — though other treatments are usually tried first. An analysis of past research considered how effective antidepressants are for these types of pain, but the results are not encouraging.

Anti-Asian racism: Breaking through stereotypes and silence

Updated April 16, 2021

On top of the unprecedented strains that COVID-19 has has placed on all of us, Asian Americans have confronted skyrocketing rates of discrimination, verbal assaults, and physical violence. The cumulative burden of these incidents contributes to mental and emotional trauma, even among those not directly attacked.

Can some postmenopausal women with breast cancer skip chemotherapy?

Published April 15, 2021

Advances in breast cancer research have led to more personalized treatments, based on subtyping and more sophisticated testing. A risk assessment test can predict that some women do not need chemotherapy but will benefit from hormone therapy, and who might benefit more from both treatments.

Stress may be getting to your skin, but it’s not a one-way street

Published April 14, 2021

In addition to everything else associated with stress, it can have negative effects on the skin, and can also aggravate certain skin conditions. But skin and hair also produce stress-inducing signals that can travel back to the brain, adding to psychological stress and perpetuating a stress cycle.

The art of a heartfelt apology

Published April 13, 2021

If you have upset someone, the best way to rectify the situation is by making a sincere, heartfelt apology. But just saying the words isn’t quite enough: for an apology to be effective, it has to be genuine. You have to mean it, and you have to make that clear.

How is treatment for myasthenia gravis evolving?

Published April 12, 2021

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a rare neuromuscular disease that impairs the transmission of nerve signals to muscles, causing temporary weakness of affected muscles. While treatment is complex, recently updated guidelines have added to the understanding of MG and are improving approaches to treatment.

Sleep, stress, or hormones? Brain fog during perimenopause

Updated April 09, 2021

During perimenopause, some women notice that they are having trouble focusing or are more forgetful. Are sleep disturbances, stress, or hormones behind this brain fog –– and what can you do to feel less foggy?

Black peer support: A role in mental health recovery

Published April 08, 2021

Peer support groups in mental health allow people with similar lived experiences to listen, share, and encourage one another. A Black peer support group created around race and culture as well as mental health may offer a safe space that allows people to address aspects of shared identity and experiences around racism with others who understand their daily reality.

What’s new in the updated asthma guidelines?

Published April 07, 2021

Recent updates to asthma management guidelines produced by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program reflect advances in understanding of the mechanisms that cause asthma and current best practices to manage asthma symptoms.