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Harvard Health Blog

Join the discussion with experts from Harvard Health Publishing and others like you on a variety of health topics, medical news, and views.


Can dust mite allergy be treated with a pill?

Published February 10, 2021

For decades, people with an allergy to dust mites took over-the-counter medications for relief, and if those were not effective they could choose to receive a course of immunotherapy shots that lasted years. A newer form of treatment is available in pill form and is taken at home.

Need to revisit screen time?

Published February 09, 2021

Restrictions caused by the pandemic have led both adults and children to spend a lot of time on screens. It’s not great for adults, and it’s more of a concern for kids because too much screen time has effects on behavior, learning, and mood. So, what steps can parents take to change this?

COVID-19 vaccines: Safety, side effects –– and coincidence

Updated April 24, 2021

As the pandemic rages on, rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines is welcome news since widespread vaccination is essential to help contain it. But while many are scrambling to get a vaccine, others hesitate due to concerns about effectiveness and safety.

Midlife ADHD? Coping strategies that can help

Published February 05, 2021

When ADHD persists through early adulthood into middle age, it presents many of the same challenges it does in childhood, but with added pressures from the busier pace of life and expectations from work and family. Fortunately there are strategies that can help you navigate this condition.

Newborn jaundice: What parents need to know

Published February 04, 2021

Most newborn babies turn a little yellow. This is known as jaundice, and it’s very common in the newborn period. But in some very rare cases it can be a sign of a more serious problem. Here’s what parents need to know about it.

What’s behind racial disparities in kidney disease?

Published February 03, 2021

Kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplant is far more common among African Americans than among white Americans, but genetics and biology play only a small role in this excess risk; the difference is linked to social and economic injustice rooted in systemic racism, and all the added burdens associated with it.

Improving PET scans are good news for doctors and patients alike

Published February 03, 2021

A recent blog post discussed a newly approved imaging agent with an unwieldy name: gallium-68 PMA-11. Delivered in small amounts by injection, this minimally radioactive tracer sticks to prostate cancer cells, which subsequently glow and reveal themselves on a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Offered to men with rising PSA levels after initial prostate cancer […]

Harvard Health Ad Watch: Can an arthritis drug help you become a morning person?

Published February 02, 2021

An ad for an arthritis medication seems to suggest that taking it will alleviate or even eliminate morning stiffness, allowing you to hop out of bed. Like most drug ads, this one has unspoken messages and glosses over questions about side effects and cost.

3 easy ways to get active — right now

Published February 01, 2021

Thinking about exercising is great, but just jumping in is often the best way to blast past mental or emotional barriers. You don’t need a complex workout program; start small and focus on making activity a daily habit. Here are easy ways to add activity to your day.

How does sleep affect your heart rate?

Published January 29, 2021

During waking hours you may feel your heart rate fluctuating, and activity or intense emotions can cause it to spike. But what happens to your heart rate when you sleep? It varies then too, depending on the phase of sleep you are in.

Are early detection and treatment always best?

Published January 28, 2021

The culture of American medicine has long believed and supported the idea that more early detection and treatment is best. But some testing is costly, invasive and carries needless risks, and some conditions go away on their own. Early detection and treatment can be lifesaving — just not for every health issue.

Shingles of the eye can cause lasting vision impairment

Published January 27, 2021

There are about one million cases of shingles in the US each year, and up to 20% of those involve nerves in the head, where the infection can affect various parts of the eye. If a case of shingles involves the upper face, forehead, or scalp, it is important to see an ophthalmologist promptly, because complications can lead to eye damage and possible vision impairment.

New dietary guidelines: Any changes for infants, children, and teens?

Published January 26, 2021

The US Department of Agriculture has published its periodically updated dietary guidelines, and for the first time advice for babies and toddlers is included. It’s never too early to start instilling good eating habits in kids, and awareness of what children should and shouldn’t eat is one way parents can get their kids on the right track.

3 simple strategies for stress relief

Published January 25, 2021

As we wade through our daily lives, stress is almost impossible to avoid –– particularly these days. Instead of enduring stress and letting it engulf you, try one or more of these three easy strategies to relieve it.

Need surgery? Should you avoid your surgeon’s birthday?

Published January 22, 2021

Researchers have examined many factors that can influence the outcome of surgery — both obvious and not-so-obvious ones. A recent study asked whether having surgery on the surgeon’s birthday had any effect on how patients fared.

How not to lose money because of Alzheimer’s disease

Published January 21, 2021

Researchers found that people who go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder are more likely to miss paying a bill prior to being diagnosed, but such people face more significant related issues: poor financial decision-making and falling victim to financial scams.

Do hair dyes increase cancer risk?

Published January 20, 2021

Many studies have explored the relationship between hair dye use and risk of cancer or cancer-related death, with conflicting findings. In a recent study, researchers analyzed survey data from over 117,000 women collected over several decades regarding hair dye use and overall cancer risk.

More intensive treatment of DCIS reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer

Updated January 21, 2021

With increased rates of diagnosis of very early breast cancer known as ductal carcinoma in situ, there has been controversy about treatment. A recent study found that having DCIS was likely to lead to invasive breast cancer later, and also that women who chose more intensive treatment early were less likely to have invasive breast cancer.

Alcohol harms the brain in teen years –– before and after that, too

Published January 15, 2021

During adolescence, the brain grows and changes in crucial ways and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. When teens and young adults drink alcohol, it can interfere with brain development processes and cause long-lasting effects.

Exercise matters to health and well-being, regardless of your size

Published January 14, 2021

Regardless of your size or fitness level, exercise has multiple benefits. Almost anything that gets you moving counts, and some activity is always better than none. These suggestions can help you make exercise work for you.

Can I take something to prevent colorectal cancer?

Published January 13, 2021

Screening for colorectal cancer can lower mortality, but it varies in effectiveness and is not always possible to perform, so alternatives are needed. Researchers analyzing studies found evidence for regular use of low-dose aspirin, leading the US Preventive Services Task Force to recommend it for some people.

3 simple steps to jump-start your heart health this year

Published January 12, 2021

Several habits can improve your heart health (and, as a side effect, may make you less vulnerable to infections like the flu or COVID-19). Focusing on a few of these is an excellent way to take care of your heart — and boost your overall health in the process.

CBD and other medications: Proceed with caution

Published January 11, 2021

Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are very popular, promising relief from a wide range of maladies. But if you are considering taking a product containing CBD, be aware that if you are taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medications, supplements, or herbal products, CBD can interact with them and cause unexpected side effects.

Can gout be prevented?

Published January 08, 2021

Gout, a debilitating form of arthritis, is on the rise compared with rates in prior decades. Obesity is probably a significant factor in this increase. Now, a new study suggests that three-quarters of gout cases in men might be completely avoidable by following certain protective health habits.