Diseases & Conditions

The human body is a remarkable structure. It's designed to efficiently manage the wear and tear of everyday life and fend off all sorts of threats. Most of us are healthy for most of our lives. But we're also susceptible to hundreds of injuries, diseases, and conditions. Some are quite common, others are extremely rare. Here are some of the most common conditions that affect humans.


Diseases & Conditions Articles

Science Matters Video Series

These one-minute videos feature the remarkable science at Harvard Medical School and highlight the passion and personalities of our scientists as talk about what they do, why it matters, and why they love it. Chengua Gu, a professor at Harvard Medical School, explains her studies of the interaction between the human brain and its blood supply, and why this interaction is so important for brain function. More »

A leg up on peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when the arteries carrying blood to the leg muscles have narrowed, almost always because of a buildup of fatty plaque. PAD can cause leg pain or fatigue after just a few minutes of walking or climbing stairs, and it increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke. Addressing risk factors, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, and adopting a regular walking program can help prevent PAD and manage symptoms if it occurs. (Locked) More »

How to deal with food sensitivity

Many people confuse food sensitivity with food intolerance or allergy. Food sensitivity, the most common of the three conditions, is often related to tiny leaks that develop in our intestine as we age. Adopting an elimination diet prescribed by a nutritionist or dietitian can help identify problem foods and determine if a person should stop eating those foods or simply manage portions better. (Locked) More »

Top 4 reasons why you're not sleeping through the night

There are many potential contributors to disrupted sleep in older age. Age can be a factor, but shouldn’t be assumed as the cause. Lifestyle habits often lead to interrupted sleep. Examples include drinking alcohol within four hours of bedtime, napping too much during the day, and consuming too much caffeine. Medication side effects can sometimes cause nighttime waking. So can underlying conditions, such as anxiety, chronic pain, or sleep apnea. Changing one’s lifestyle and treating an underlying condition can help improve sleep, as can practicing good sleep hygiene. More »

Battling the big toe joint blues

The joint at the base of the big toe is called the metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint. Common conditions that affect the MTP joint include osteoarthritis, the wearing away of cartilage between the bones; bunions, a condition in which the first metatarsal bone juts outward, causing the phalanx bone to point inward toward the other toes; and gout, a type of inflammatory arthritis. Surgery is always a last resort for bunions or MTP arthritis. Gout may require over-the-counter painkillers or prescription medications. (Locked) More »

Recognizing a common cause of exercise-related leg pain

Peripheral artery disease, in which fatty deposits block blood flow in arteries outside the heart, particularly the legs, is as common in women as it is in men. The condition can be prevented and should be treated early to prevent serious complications, including amputation. (Locked) More »

Why do I get weak after a bowel movement?

Bowel movements can slow heart rate and lower blood pressure, which can make a person feel weak. This often is not a serious problem, and lying down for a few minutes can make the feeling go away. More »

Feeling woozy when you stand?

Orthostatic hypotension is a temporary drop in blood pressure when standing. The condition reduces blood flow to the brain, causing lightheadedness, blurred vision, or fainting. Some people don’t have any symptoms, and don’t discover they have orthostatic hypotension until they fall. Treatment can involve compression stockings, elevating the head of the bed at night, a high-salt diet, and medication. Getting up from a bed or chair slowly and drinking lots of fluids to prevent dehydration can also help manage the condition. More »

Nothing to sneeze at

Older adults can develop seasonal allergies—also known as hay fever, even if they never had them before. The best ways to help avoid allergy symptoms and manage their severity is to track the daily pollen count, use certain over-the-counter medication as needed, and potentially take allergy vaccines to build up resistance to specific allergens. More »