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

Does heartburn feel like a heart attack?

Chest pain can indicate acid reflux causing heartburn, or it could be the first sign of an impending heart attack. It’s important to note symptoms in order to tell the difference. (Locked) More »

Don’t delay treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition caused when the median nerve, which runs down your arm into your hand, is compressed by a ligament that crosses over it. Symptoms include numbness and pain in your hand. Women tend to be more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome. If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t delay treatment, or you may wind up with lasting nerve damage. More »

Should you take an antiviral drug when you get the flu?

Antiviral medications may help reduce the symptoms of influenza. They must be taken within two days of the start of symptoms to be effective. In June 2017, the World Health Organization removed one antiviral, oseltamivir (Tamiflu), from its list of essential medications because of questionable effectiveness. However, Harvard experts say antivirals are the only medication option, have a good safety record, and at least some people respond to the drugs if they are prescribed promptly. (Locked) More »

Fall vaccination roundup

There are several vaccines older adults should consider getting. The flu shot is required every year, especially for people ages 65 or older, and for people who have chronic lung disease, cancer, diabetes, or heart problems. The shingles vaccine is recommended for people starting at age 50 or 60. Two vaccines protect against pneumococcus, a bacterium that can cause severe pneumonia, bacteremia, sinus infections, ear infections, or bacterial meningitis. The CDC recommends that adults 65 and older get a dose of PCV13 first, followed by a dose of PPSV23 six to 12 months later. (Locked) More »

Most people with pinkeye get unnecessary treatment

People who get simple pinkeye with redness, itching, and mild discomfort usually don’t need antibiotic eye drops since most cases are due to a virus or allergy. They can use artificial tears and compresses until the eye heals on its own within one to two weeks. More »

How’s your heart rate and why it matters?

When it comes to your heart rate, it's a bit like the speed of your car. What you want is not too fast, not too slow, and not too erratic. In fact, most of the time, heart rhythm and pace are not things you need to think about. And unless something unusual is going on, you're likely completely unaware of what your heart is doing. Heart rate is important because the heart's function is so important. The heart circulates oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body. When it's not working properly, just about everything is affected. Heart rate is central to this process because the function of the heart (called "cardiac output") is directly related to heart rate and stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped out with each beat). More »

Other conditions may be causes of chest pain

Although chest pain is often—and rightfully— associated with heart disease, other medical problems can be causes of chest pain. Angina—feelings of pressure, heaviness, tightness. or pain in the chest—occurs when plaque in the coronary arteries partially blocks blood flow and the heart muscle isn't getting enough oxygen and nutrients. (You can learn more about angina in the Harvard Special Health Report Diseases of the Heart: A compendium of common heart condition and the latest treatments.) Yet the heart isn't the only organ in the upper abdomen, and chest pain may be due to conditions affecting the esophagus, lungs, gall bladder, or stomach. When chest pain—particularly pain in the lower chest— is triggered by a meal, it is likely to emanate from the digestive system, rather than from the heart, and can be due to the following: More »