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

Coping with coronavirus

Perhaps you're older, worried that you may become infected and seriously ill. Maybe you're doing your best to keep your family healthy while trying to balance work with caring for your children while schools are closed. Or you're feeling isolated, separated from friends and loved ones during this period of social distancing. Regardless of your specific circumstances, it's likely that you're wondering how to cope with the stress, anxiety, and other feelings that are surfacing. A variety of stress management techniques, which we delve into below, can help. This webinar series was created to support the students and staff of the Harvard Medical School community, yet the lessons will be broadly applicable to all who are feeling the emotional strain of this unprecedented crisis.  More »

Coronavirus outbreak and kids

Children's lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. Between schools being closed and playdates being cancelled, children's routines are anything but routine. Kids also have questions about coronavirus, and benefit from age-appropriate answers that don't fuel the flame of anxiety. It also helps to discuss — and role model —  things they can control, like hand washing, social distancing, and other health-promoting behaviors. Children, including very young children, can develop COVID-19. Many of them have no symptoms. Those that do get sick tend to experience milder symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue, and cough. Some children have had severe complications, but this has been less common. Children with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe illness. More »

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection. It can inflame and damage the liver. Hepatitis C is usually transmitted through contact with infected blood. It can be spread through: The hepatitis C virus can cause short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic) hepatitis C. Most people with acute hepatitis C eventually develop chronic hepatitis C. (Locked) More »

Is osteoarthritis reversible?

Osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, but symptoms can be reduced by exercising the affected area, and taking steps to control pain as advised by your doctor. More »

Should I take blood pressure medications at night?

A large randomized study published online Oct. 22, 2019, by the European Heart Journal found that taking blood pressure medications at night rather than the morning appears to significantly lower blood pressure and lower the risk for heart attack, stroke, surgery or stents to open blocked arteries in the heart, and death from heart disease or stroke. The study also found that taking blood pressure medications at night instead of the morning seemed to have no adverse effects, such as a higher rate of getting dizzy and falling when getting up at night to go to the bathroom. (Locked) More »

Coronavirus Resource Center

The rapid spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to spark alarm worldwide. Countries around the world are grappling with surges in confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Calls for preventive measures such as social distancing and face coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus have created a new normal in many places. Health care workers and hospitals have ramped up capabilities to care for large numbers of people made seriously ill by COVID-19. Meanwhile, scientists are exploring potential treatments and clinical trials to test new therapies and vaccines are underway. Below, you'll find answers to common questions all of us are asking. We will be adding new questions and updating answers as reliable information becomes available. Also see our podcasts featuring experts discussing coronavirus and COVID-19.  More »

Boils and Carbuncles

Boils and carbuncles are skin infections usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (staph). These staph infections form pockets in the skin that are filled with pus, a fluid that includes bacteria, dead skin cells and infection-fighting white blood cells. Whether the pocket of pus is called a boil or a carbuncle depends on its location and size: A boil, also called a furuncle, begins as a painful infection of a single hair follicle. Boils can grow to be larger than a golf ball, and they commonly occur on the buttocks, face, neck, armpits and groin. A carbuncle is a deeper skin infection that involves a group of infected hair follicles in one skin location. Carbuncles often are found on the back of the neck, shoulders, hips and thighs, and they are especially common in middle-aged or elderly men. People with diabetes are more likely to develop carbuncles. (Locked) More »

Bowel Obstruction

In a bowel obstruction (intestinal obstruction), a blockage prevents the contents of the intestines from passing normally through the digestive tract. The problem causing the blockage can be inside or outside the intestine. Inside the intestine, a tumor or swelling can fill and block the inside passageway of the intestine. Outside the intestine, it is possible for an adjacent organ or area of tissue to pinch, compress or twist a segment of bowel. A bowel obstruction can occur in the small bowel (small intestine) or large bowel (large intestine or colon). Also, a bowel obstruction can be total or partial, depending on whether any intestinal contents can pass through the obstructed area. In the small intestine, the most common causes of bowel obstruction are: (Locked) More »

Chorionic Villus Sampling

Chorionic villi are small branching structures on one side of the placenta. They anchor the placenta to the wall of the uterus, almost like the roots of a plant. They have another root-like function, which is to absorb nutrients from the mother's blood in the lining of her uterus, and to deliver these to the umbilical cord. These structures contain cells from the developing fetus. A test that removes a sample of these cells through a needle is called chorionic villus sampling (CVS). CVS answers many of the same questions as amniocentesis about diseases that the baby might have. Diseases that can be diagnosed with CVS include Tay-Sachs, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, thalassemia, and Down syndrome. (Rh incompatibility and neural tube defects, however, can be diagnosed only through amniocentesis.) CVS can be done earlier in pregnancy than amniocentesis and can be done when there is not enough amniotic fluid to allow amniocentesis. However, it has some extra risks when compared with amniocentesis. CVS can be done between the 10th and 13th weeks of pregnancy. Tell your doctor ahead of time if you have ever had an allergic reaction to lidocaine or the numbing medicine used at the dentist's office. (Locked) More »

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of disorders that damage the lungs. These disorders make breathing increasingly difficult over time. The most common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both are chronic illnesses that impair airflow in the lungs. Most cases of COPD are related to cigarette smoking. (Locked) More »