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

After prostate cancer treatment, a new standard of care for rising PSA

When prostate cancer recurs after initial treatment, doctors typically treat it with hormonal therapies. But results from a large clinical trial show that a different medication (or combination of two medications) is a better approach.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is rising

The CDC estimates that 3.3 million Americans have myalgic encephalitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, a tricky-to-diagnose illness. Here we share one story about living with that illness from the Health Story Collaborative, which helps people delve into the healing power of narrative.

How healthy is sugar alcohol?

Food products advertised as being lower in sugar or sugar-free contain sugar substitutes. Sugar alcohol is another ingredient used as a sweetener in food products. But is sugar alcohol a better choice nutritionally than other sweeteners or natural sugar?

No-cost, low-cost, and bigger splurges for climate-conscious gifts

If you're looking for gifts to give or donate, climate-conscious gifts come in many guises and fit no-cost, low-cost, or big budgets. Gifts can directly support the environment, trim waste and fossil fuel use, or offer creative ways to connect, reuse, recyle — and possibly regift.

When should you hire in-home help or health aides?

Most people want to live at home for as long as possible as they age, and managing this successfully may mean hiring outside help. Considering this step raises many questions, and answering them honestly will help guide decisions about when and how to proceed.

Small pets are delightful, but some carry dangerous bacteria

Small animals like turtles, iguanas, and frogs are often chosen as first-time pets for children, but it may be best to avoid them because they can carry bacteria that can make people sick. Here's what to know about this illness.

Veins are a key player in the body: Here's why

Thousands of miles of veins throughout the body bring blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen and nutrients, and get rid of carbon dioxide before returning to the heart to be pumped out again. How do veins work, what problems can occur, and how can you keep these vital blood vessels healthy?

Do toddler formulas deliver on nutrition claims?

Formula companies claim that toddler formulas, also known as "follow-up formulas," "transition formulas," or "growing-up milks" offer nutritional benefits to toddlers. But are these products necessary and healthy?

What does a birth doula do?

In the US, more people seem to be seeking out the assistance of a doula when preparing to give birth. While such services may not be covered by insurance, a professional doula can provide emotional and physical support during pregnancy and throughout the birthing process.

Cellulitis: How long does it take to heal on legs?

Cellulitis, a skin infection that often occurs on the lower leg, develops when bacteria enter the body through a cut, bite, or other wound. A new study shows key aspects of healing typically occur within 10 days of treatment, but symptoms can linger for some time after that.

What to do when driving skills decline

Many people experience a decline in their driving skills as they age. While some choose to stop driving, others resist. Whether it's you or a loved one, planning ahead can help you tackle fixable issues, make transitions easier, and avoid harming yourself or someone else.

A tough question: When should an older driver stop driving?

Navigating whether or when an older person should limit or stop driving is tricky. Whether these concerns are about a family member or yourself, it's helpful to be aware of red flags and to understand how driving abilities –– and risk for motor vehicle accidents –– change with age.

Opill: Is this new birth control pill right for you?

The first nonprescription daily oral contraceptive was approved by the FDA earlier this year. Opill is expected to be available in early 2024. Here's what you should know about this new birth control pill.

Do children get migraine headaches? What parents need to know

Headaches are very common in children and teens. We don't tend to think about children getting migraines, but by age 10 one in 20 children has had one. Symptoms may differ from adults and it's important for parents to understand triggers, helpful treatments, and possible red flags.

Long-lasting C. diff infections: A threat to the gut

Virtually everyone carries the bacteria Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff. But half a million Americans a year develop a serious C. diff infection due to a gut microbiome imbalance. It disproportionately strikes people in hospitals and nursing homes, and can recur repeatedly.

How much sleep do you actually need?

Just how many hours of sleep are enough for you? The answer varies and it might be better to track sleep quality than focus on the number of hours you log each night.

FDA approves new surgical treatment for enlarged prostates

A transurethral resection of the prostate is considered the gold-standard treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia. But newer, less invasive procedures offer faster recovery times and fewer risks of complications. Earlier this year another new procedure won the FDA's approval.

Kidneys, eyes, ears, and more: Why do we have a spare?

The human body has excess capacity — that is, our organs have more reserve than most of us will ever need. Why are we built with this natural redundancy? And which body parts can safely fail or be removed without impairing health?

Produce prescriptions may promote better heart health

The typical American diet isn't very healthy, and dietary shortfalls are more pronounced among people living in lower-income neighborhoods. A study analyzing data from produce prescription programs suggests that improving access to fresh vegetables and fruits may improve heart health.

Rare and often aggressive, Merkel cell cancer is best caught early

Merkel cell cancer is a rare form of skin cancer that often spreads aggressively to other areas of the body. Here's what to know about it, including who is more likely to get it and how you can take steps to help prevent it.

Which skin creams are most effective for eczema?

A common form of eczema called atopic dermatitis can interfere with daily activities. There are a number of prescription creams available to ease this chronic skin condition, but some are more effective than others, and a recent study compared them.

Wondering what your lymph nodes have done for you lately?

The human body has hundreds of lymph nodes, one part of the immune system that helps defend the body against health threats. They aren't usually noticeable, but they are always working to deal with potential health problems.

Navigating middle school is tough: How parents can help

Middle school can be challenging for many students, with increased time demands, more homework, and social situations to navigate. What can parents do to support their kids and strengthen family bonds during this period in their lives?

Is online gambling harming you?

Online gambling is a popular and growing business, but for millions of Americans, what begins as occasional fun can lead to devastating problems. Trouble with gambling often builds gradually and severe gambling problems share risk factors with substance-related disorders.

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