Recent Blog Articles

Lung Health Archive


Respiratory virus cases tick upward: What parents should know

Updated October 23, 2022

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is the leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under a year old. Usually, cases drop in spring and summer, but the pattern is changing and parents should be watchful.

Smoking more than doubles heart risk among African Americans

Published June 28, 2021
Smoking is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but there is less data available that explores the specific risks African Americans face. A long-running study in Mississippi is doing just that, and found that smoking more than doubles the risk of heart disease among African Americans.

Screening for lung cancer

Updated June 1, 2021
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends more people should undergo lung cancer screening.

More people now eligible for lung cancer screening

Updated June 1, 2021
Updated guidelines suggest current and former smokers get an annual lung cancer screening including those who have quit within the past 15 years.

Common questions about medical cannabis

Published May 28, 2021
While cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, more than two-thirds of US states have made it partly or fully legal for medical purposes. People who decide to use marijuana for a medical condition often have questions about its safety and proper use — the same considerations doctors weigh when determining whether it should be prescribed for a particular patient.

Take a deep breath before adopting new asthma guidelines

Updated March 1, 2021

News briefs

Hold off before you follow new recommendations to treat mild, persistent asthma — or at least consult your doctor first. The updated guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, published online in the December 2020 issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, say it's okay for people with mild, persistent asthma to stop daily use of inhaled corticosteroids and instead use them only as needed, along with short-acting beta agonists ("rescue" medications). That's considered a major shift in guidance. But that may not be a good idea for some older adults, notes Dr. Anna Wolfson, an allergist and immunologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "A lot of people have a harder time with the occasional use of medications than a routine practice of daily use," she says. "And you may not want to decrease your asthma regimen during the pandemic. Poorly controlled asthma could lead to a flare or an ER visit, and perhaps an increased risk for complications if you develop COVID-19." Dr. Wolfson says there are some people who might benefit from using inhaled corticosteroids only as needed, but she urges you to speak with your doctor before changing your medication regimen.

Image: Branimir/Getty Images

COVID-19 or something else?

Updated September 1, 2020

Learn how COVID-19 symptoms compare to other illnesses, and when you should call the doctor.

Before 2020, you might not have worried much about a tickle in your throat or a little tightness in your chest. But that's changed.

Now even slight signs of a respiratory bug might make you wonder if it's the start of COVID-19, the illness that has become a pandemic.

Cracking the cough code

Updated October 13, 2020

Recognize cough symptoms so you know when to seek treatment.

 Image: © Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Dry cough, wet cough, a cough that lingers on — they're all signs of one or more underlying conditions. What does each type of cough indicate, and how do doctors discern the difference? It depends on the type and duration of the cough.

Wet cough

A wet, productive cough produces sputum (phlegm or mucus from the lungs or sinuses). The cough sounds soupy and may come with a wheezing or rattling sound and tightness in your chest.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.