Harvard Health Blog

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


How — and why — to fit more fiber and fermented food into your meals

A healthy diet is key to a healthy gut microbiome, which helps the immune system function well and reduces chronic inflammation among other important tasks. And increasing evidence suggests that fiber and fermented foods can play important roles in gut health.

What? Another medical form to fill out?

It can be frustrating to be asked to fill out medical forms yet again for a health care visit. But even if you have an electronic medical record, a practice might need you to provide or update information, and it's helpful to know what is most important or likely to be requested.

How do trees and green spaces enhance our health?

Trees enhance our lives by releasing oxygen, reducing pollution, and preventing flooding. Beyond all of these benefits, there is growing evidence that just being around trees and green spaces improves mood and overall health.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: New drug, old song, clever tagline

A new type of nonhormonal medication to prevent hot flashes and night sweats due to menopause, Veozah, was approved by the FDA in 2023. An ad for the drug has useful information, but some key questions are not answered.

Concussion in children: What to know and do

Concussion is one of the most common injuries to the brain, affecting about two million children and teens every year. Understanding signs, symptoms, questions to ask, and how concussion care has changed in recent years can make a difference in identifying concussion and recovery.

Your amazing parathyroid glands

Most people have four parathyroid glands, which are tiny in size but very important to the body's function. These glands are involved in regulating calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D, keeping these nutrients in balance without being noticed by us.

Co-regulation: Helping children and teens navigate big emotions

Co-regulation is a process in which caregivers can help young people learn better ways to regulate their emotions during the inevitable upsets and challenges of life. But before a caregiver can help a child, they need to understand their own emotional skills and limitations. 

Dog bites: How to prevent or treat them

More than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the US each year. Despite what you might expect, most of these are inflicted by a pet dog in a home. Learn more about how you can avoid injury, and what to do if you do get bitten.

Can AI answer medical questions better than your doctor?

When a study asked doctors and artificial intelligence to respond to selected patient questions, a chatbot received higher ratings for empathy and quality. But a closer look at the research spotlights important limitations and findings.

How to stay healthy during a drought

With climate change, rising temperatures are making many regions dry within the US and beyond. The effects of droughts on the planet and our health are complex, and include water shortages, higher risk of disease, changes in habitability, and worse air quality.

How well do you worry about your health?

It's impossible to never worry about your health — but are you worrying about the right things? Popular fears and Google and TikTok searches suggest our top concerns may bypass common health issues. So what should concern us and what can we do about it?

Ready to give up the lead vest?

Dental x-rays have long involved donning lead-lined shields. But new guidelines from the American Dental Association say that using the vest is no longer necessary. What has changed?

What complications can occur after prostate cancer surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery to remove the prostate gland is generally very well tolerated, but there can be complications, as in the case of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier this year. A Harvard-affiliated urologist answers questions about the possibility of such complications.

When should your teen or tween start using skin products?

Social media and stores are full of products that promise perfect skin. Increasingly these products are being marketed to tweens and teens as well as adults. For the most part tweens and teens do not need specialized skin products — but sometimes they make sense.

Ever worry about your gambling?

Recent changes in laws have made gambling widely accessible and popular. Uncontrolled gambling can have many kinds of consequences, some quite serious. A simple screening test for problem gambling and knowing the range of available resources can help people ward off the worst of these issues.

Stepping up activity if winter slowed you down

If you've been cocooning due to winter's cold, who can blame you? But lack of activity isn't good for body or mind during any season. Any day is a good day to start exercising, but if you aren't sure how to start, or if you have an obstacle to overcome, read on.

Is chronic fatigue syndrome all in your brain?

A new study from the National Institutes of Health has performed more diverse and extensive biological measurements of people experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome than any previous research. Here's what they found and what it means.

One more reason to brush your teeth?

New research suggests that people who are hospitalized in an intensive care unit are far less likely to develop pneumonia if their teeth are brushed twice daily. They also need ventilators for less time, are able to leave the ICU more quickly, and are less likely to die in the ICU.

Does sleeping with an eye mask improve learning and alertness?

Our internal clocks regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and light establishes when we should feel wakeful or sleepy. Light exposure at night affects these natural processes, so researchers studied whether wearing an eye mask while sleeping might help learning and alertness.

Does drinking water before meals really help you lose weight?

If you've ever tried to lose weight, you've probably heard the advice to drink water before a meal because it makes you feel fuller and you'll stop eating sooner. It seems like a reasonable idea — but does it work? And if it doesn't, why do people think it does?

Still confused after Flovent discontinuation? What to know and do

Until recently, many people with asthma used a medicine called Flovent. It has been discontinued by its manufacturer, leaving users with questions about what to substitute and which medicines their insurance will cover.

New research shows little risk of infection from prostate biopsies

Infections after a prostate biopsy are rare, but they do occur. There are two ways to perform such a biopsy, with the one at higher risk of infection more common in the US. Researchers conducted a trial designed to compare the safety of the two methods.

What is a tongue-tie? What parents need to know

A band of tissue helps secure the tongue to the front of the mouth. If it is short, it can restrict movement of the tongue. This is called a tongue-tie. Having a tongue-tie is not necessarily a problem — but there are exceptions that parents should be aware of.

Which migraine medications are most helpful?

Many medications claim to relieve migraine pain, but some are more helpful than others. In a large study looking at real-world data on 25 drugs, migraine sufferers rated the most and least helpful options.

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