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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.


Sick child this school year? Planning for the inevitable during a pandemic

Updated October 22, 2020

Kids get sick: it happens, and most of the time it’s not cause for concern or alarm. But this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, every symptom will be scrutinized. Parents need to be aware of what to do when their child shows signs of illness this year.

Treating mild hypothyroidism: Benefits still uncertain

Published September 28, 2020

More than 10 million adults in the US have hypothyroidism — when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs — but the vast majority of these cases are considered mild. Whether or not to treat mild hypothyroidism is an ongoing debate. There is a possible link between mild hypothyroidism and coronary artery disease, but researchers found that treating it in older people did not provide any benefit.

Managing the new normal: Actively help your family weather the pandemic

Published September 25, 2020

More than six months into the pandemic, it’s clear that we are going to be living with it for some time, and that expectations of life soon returning to normal are not realistic. This is a good time to assess the adjustments we’ve made and see how we can make different choices to get ourselves and our families through the challenge.

Lifestyle medicine for all: Healthy food comes first

Published September 24, 2020

Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based practice of helping people adopt and sustain healthy behaviors, such as eating a plant-based diet, which can lower inflammation, as well as the risk of many chronic diseases. Some doctors and organizations are working toward making lifestyle medicine more accessible.

CBD for chronic pain: The science doesn’t match the marketing

Published September 23, 2020

CBD, a non-psychoactive component in cannabis, is emerging as a promising pharmaceutical agent to treat pain and other conditions. Unfortunately, few studies in humans have examined its effectiveness, and the cannabis industry’s profit motive is driving a wave of dubious claims about what CBD can do.

Cough and cold season is arriving: Choose medicines safely

Published September 22, 2020

Millions of Americans get coughs and colds during the winter, and many head to the drugstore to pick up one of the hundreds of common medicines available without a prescription. But those products often contain multiple active ingredients that are potentially unsafe if combined. Here’s how to safely choose the right over-the-counter medication for your symptoms.

Discrimination, high blood pressure, and health disparities in African Americans

Published September 21, 2020

It is well established that African Americans have a higher risk of hypertension compared with other racial or ethnic groups in the United States. Researchers hypothesized that systemic, sustained discrimination could be a cause of this, and examined the effects of stress, discrimination, and injustice on health outcomes over the course of a person’s life.

Shorter dream-stage sleep may be related to earlier death

Published September 18, 2020

It’s well known that getting enough sleep is critical to daily functioning and long-term health. Now, new research suggests that a lack of enough REM sleep may be related to earlier death in people at middle age or older.

Time for flu shots — getting one is more important than ever!

Published September 17, 2020

Getting a flu shot is important every year, but this winter there is added urgency due to the COVID-19 pandemic: with both diseases circulating, hospitals may face shortages of beds and equipment –– and it’s possible to have both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A feel-good message about a diabetes drug

Updated September 18, 2020

An advertisement for a medication for type 2 diabetes presents a positive message about how it can help people with the condition control their blood sugar, but as with most drug ads, that’s not the whole story.

6 all-natural sex tips for men

Published September 15, 2020

Erectile dysfunction (ED) medications are relatively safe and work for most men, but they aren’t right for every man. Here are six proven strategies that can help –– and offer added benefits on overall health and quality of life.

Learning to live well with a persistent illness

Published September 14, 2020

Having a persistent illness is challenging. It means having to make changes and adjustments to accommodate your needs, but it does not have to mean giving up on everything you enjoy.

5 takeaways for returning to school

Published September 11, 2020

As school districts across the country struggle with uncertainty about reopening, teachers, staff, and parents share deep concerns. Is a safe return to in-person learning even possible? How do parents cope with the challenges and pressures they are facing? How can we best support our children and their teachers?

Getting the best treatment for your fibromyalgia

Published September 10, 2020

Living with the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia is a challenge faced by millions of people. Finding a doctor who understands the condition and how to treat it can be hard, but knowing the facts about your condition and what questions to ask can help you find the right doctor.

Hormonal treatments for prostate cancer may prevent or limit COVID-19 symptoms

Published September 10, 2020

Men have roughly twice the risk of developing severe disease and dying from COVID-19 than women. Scientists say this is in part because women mount stronger immune reactions to the disease’s microbial cause: the infamous coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Now research with prostate cancer patients points to another possible explanation, which is that the male sex […]

New screening guidelines likely to identify more early lung cancers

Published September 09, 2020

The US Preventive Services Task Force has updated its lung cancer screening guidelines, to open up the screening to a wider range of people based on their age and smoking history, with the goal of detecting more cancers and reducing deaths.

Limiting COVID chaos during the school year

Published September 08, 2020

As the school year begins, plans for how learning will happen are in flux, and may change rapidly. With so much uncertainty, parents will want to limit confusion and create as much structure as they can for their children in this difficult situation.

How can you help a loved one suffering from loneliness?

Published September 04, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more people are dealing with extended periods of isolation from family and friends. Increasing feelings of loneliness are a serious health issue that can increase the risk of death. If you or someone you know is in this situation, there are things you can do to mitigate the circumstances.

Triple therapy helps control severe asthma

Published September 02, 2020

Between 5% and 10% of asthmatics have frequent, persistent symptoms despite treatment with multiple medications. Two clinical trials tested treatments containing multiple medications in people with asthma that had been difficult to treat, with encouraging results.

How to help your child get the sleep they need

Published August 31, 2020

Back-to-school plans are still a question mark for many school districts, and it’s probably tempting to let a more relaxed summer sleep schedule stay in place. But consistency and routine are important for children and teens to ensure they get enough high-quality sleep. Here’s how to create that structure.

Blown up in smoke: Young adults who vape at greater risk of COVID symptoms

Published August 28, 2020

While the majority of deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in people 65 or older, younger people who smoke or vape are at much higher risk of becoming infected — twice as likely as those in the same age group who do not use any nicotine-containing substance.

Is it safe to reduce blood pressure medications for older adults?

Published August 26, 2020

Many older people take multiple medications, and managing them can be a burden. It’s common for people with high blood pressure to be prescribed several medications, so a recent study examined the effects of reducing the number of blood pressure medications in a small group of test subjects.

5 ways to ease pain using the mind-body connection

Published August 24, 2020

Mind-body therapies can help you reframe awareness of pain, whether recent or chronic, and rethink your response to it. There are several different techniques, some of which involve guidance or working with a therapist; others require nothing but focus and a small amount of time.

Worried about sleep apnea? Home-based testing is now the norm

Published August 21, 2020

Sleep apnea robs people of high-quality sleep, increases the risk of heart problems, and puts people at higher risk of accidents. While an overnight stay in a sleep lab used to be required to diagnose sleep apnea, now this testing often can be done at home.