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Diseases & Conditions Archive

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Vaccination still recommended after a shingles infection

Published December 1, 2021
The CDC recommends people ages 50 and older get the Shingrix vaccine to protect against shingles. But those who haven’t been vaccinated and get shingles for the first time should still receive the shot to reduce their risk of future attacks.

Should we use rapid COVID tests before gatherings?

Published December 1, 2021
Rapid COVID tests aren’t foolproof, but can provide an added layer of assurance if people take them before a planned gathering, in addition to following other preventive strategies.

Tough to swallow

Published December 1, 2021
Losing the ability to properly swallow should not be attributed to older age. If older adults have persistent trouble swallowing, like the sensation something is stuck in their throat, or if it’s painful to swallow, it could be a sign of an underlying problem and should be checked out. Treatment depends on the source of the swallowing problem, but might include medication, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, surgery.

Sore throat soothers

Published December 1, 2021
Most sore throats are caused by non-life-threatening conditions or certain behaviors. But sometimes a sore throat may be an indication of COVID-19. One should call the doctor if experiencing difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, a high fever, or a cough that produces blood. Ways to relieve sore throat pain include staying hydrated, using over-the-counter painkillers, drinking warm liquids, using cough drops, using a spray or lozenge that contains an oral anesthetic to numb the throat, and treating an underlying condition causing sore throat pain.

What’s new in diabetes drugs

Published December 1, 2021
Two classes of diabetes drugs—GLP-1 receptor agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors—have received much attention lately. They not only lower blood sugar, they also help with weight reduction and may lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and chronic kidney disease. The drugs can be taken as daily oral tablets or in some cases weekly injections, both of which are preferable over daily insulin shots.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: An upbeat ad for a psoriasis treatment

Published November 29, 2021

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease characterized by rough, inflamed patches. There are a number of treatment options available, including a medication called Skyrizi that is given as an injection. Does an upbeat, frequently-run ad on TV clearly deliver all the information people need to know about this drug –– or just some of it?

What it takes to achieve world-changing scientific breakthroughs

Published November 16, 2021

In science, true breakthroughs are rare. Some are the result of fortunate accidents, while others come from scientists with the will to pursue a dream despite challenges and obstacles. And when such breakthroughs do happen –– think of penicillin or COVID vaccines –– the whole world benefits from them.

 

Less may be more when treating urinary tract infections

Published November 1, 2021
Researchers found that treating urinary tract infections with antibiotics for seven days was just as effective as treatment lasting 14 days. The shorter duration also can reduce the risk of medication side effects like diarrhea and nausea.

Taming the chronic inflammation of psoriasis

Published November 1, 2021
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition in which the immune system attacks the skin. It causes painful skin lesions and may also lead to psoriatic arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or coronary artery disease. Psoriasis treatments include topical steroids, gentle exfoliant lotions, emollients that keep the skin hydrated, ultraviolet light (phototherapy), laser therapies, vitamin A (retinoid creams), and medications (for moderate-to-severe psoriasis). People with psoriasis are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with an mRNA vaccine (from either Pfizer or Moderna) as soon as possible, if they haven’t already done so.

4 reasons for tingling or numbness in the arms and legs

Published November 1, 2021
There are lots of reasons for numbness or tingling in the limbs. Constant or recurrent symptoms point to a potentially serious cause. One possibility is peripheral neuropathy, which damages nerves throughout the body. Another is peripheral artery disease—a narrowing of the arteries in the limbs that reduces blood flow. Another is nerve compression, which might be caused by sciatica (irritation of the sciatic nerve in the legs) or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal). When numbness or tingling persists, one should report the symptoms to a doctor right away.

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