Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.


Good news: Deaths due to HIV are way down

Published December 18, 2020

A new study cites a remarkable decline in deaths due to HIV infection, and dramatically fewer new cases of HIV infection in the US over the past decade. But there is still a long way to go before declaring victory over HIV/AIDS.

New high-resolution imaging scans approved for use in prostate cancer

Published December 17, 2020

Imagine trying to find a single match from a book of matches in a large room. Not an easy task, right? But if the lights were dimmed and the match was lit, then its location would be immediately apparent. This is the basic idea behind PSMA imaging, a newly approved method for detecting prostate cancer […]

Choosing joy during difficult times

Published December 17, 2020

As this year’s challenges and stressors have piled up, many people have found it increasingly difficult to find any joy in their lives. A good portion of our happiness is related to our own attitudes and actions, and the actions of others can show us how to find contentment, happiness — even joy— in the most difficult of times.

Executive function in children: Why it matters and how to help

Published December 16, 2020

Although executive function skills begin to develop in the first year of life, the time at which children reach these milestones varies. Some children experience challenges or delays related to their executive function skills, but these skills can be improved through evidence-based interventions.

Holiday jangle: Tricky conversations around COVID safety with family and friends

Published December 15, 2020

Many of us are facing new and challenging conversations with family and friends about travel, gatherings, and COVID safety precautions over the holidays and beyond. Here’s how to successfully communicate your own needs while still showing loved ones that you care about them.

Shingles: What triggers this painful, burning rash?

Published December 14, 2020

If you have chickenpox as a child, the virus stays in your body, and can emerge later in life as a painful, burning rash called shingles. It’s not fully understood what triggers a resurgence of the virus, but factors that weaken the immune system increase the risk of developing shingles, and it is more common in people over age 60.

Magnets, sound, and batteries: Choosing safe toys

Published December 11, 2020

When choosing gifts for the children in your life this year, there are toy you should consider — creativity, imagination, and movement should be encouraged — and toys you should try to avoid due to safety concerns or for other reasons.

Grandparents as scribes of the pandemic

Published December 11, 2020

Since children’s memories of the pandemic are likely to fade, or be forgotten entirely, grandparents have the opportunity to offer them a legacy of sorts by making the effort to record their own personal thoughts about their experiences during this time.

Why are mRNA vaccines so exciting?

Published December 10, 2020

The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that could soon be available to treat COVID-19 are mRNA vaccines, which have never before been approved to treat any disease. How do these differ from other types of vaccines, and how were they developed?

Will eating more chilis help you live longer?

Published December 10, 2020

A new report suggests eating chili peppers regularly could lower the risk of dying of cancer or cardiovascular disease. One theory attributes such health benefits to capsaicin, an antioxidant that brings the heat. But just how strong are these findings?

Do thunderstorms worsen asthma and COPD symptoms?

Published December 9, 2020

Weather affects respiratory function, but many of its effects remain unclear. Researchers analyzed Medicare claims to determine whether storms led to an increase in emergency room visits related to asthma and COPD.

Stiff and achy in the mornings? How to fix that

Published December 8, 2020

Often, feeling stiff and a little achy when you wake or during the day is related to periods of inactivity, perhaps while sleeping or parked in front of a computer. To counteract this, plan frequent movement breaks and try these stretches focusing on stiff or achy areas.

How to give yourself — and others — a break

Updated December 11, 2020

Being kind to ourselves and to other people is a simple way to make life smoother, but it’s often difficult to do this consistently. The added stress of the pandemic has made navigating the stresses of life even more of a challenge, but making effort to practice self-compassion can help control anxiety.

21 spices for healthy holiday foods

Published December 4, 2020

The holiday season is probably the hardest time of year to resist rich, indulgent foods, but too many salty, fatty, sugary choices can harm your health. Instead, try adding natural flavor to holiday foods with herbs and spices, many of which contain substances that have a beneficial effect on health.

Gender fluidity: What it means and why support matters

Published December 3, 2020

Gender fluidity refers to changes over time in gender identity and gender expression. For many people, gender identity and expression develop early and stay the same; for others, one or both may change. Understanding and supporting young people exploring gender is important to their emotional and physical well-being.

Aggressive hypertension treatment does not lead to dangerous drops in blood pressure

Published December 2, 2020

There has been concern that treating high blood pressure too aggressively could result in blood pressure dropping too much, to a level that could be dangerous. An analysis of studies found that this did not occur, and in fact intensive hypertension treatment actually reduced the risk of such a drop in blood pressure.

Treating neuropathy: Which medication is best?

Published December 1, 2020

Millions of people suffer from the burning, tingling, and numbness of a form of neuropathy called idiopathic sensory polyneuropathy. A recent study directly comparing four medications produced disappointing results, but is a step in the right direction.

How to avoid a relapse when things seem out of control

Published November 30, 2020

This year has been extremely stressful for everyone, and that stress can lead to harmful habits. For those working to stay in recovery from an addiction, the challenge is even more profound. Those in this situation know that the more stressful things are, the more important it is to practice the healthy habits that sustain recovery.

Moody quaranteen? What parents should watch for and do

Updated November 30, 2020

Teens crave connection with peers and independence from family, and being isolated during the pandemic has been particularly hard for some — though not all — of them. Here are warning signs that signal more than everyday moodiness and ways to actively bolster teen mental health.

2 easy, affordable, plant-centered dinners

Updated November 25, 2020

Shifting your diet to eat more plant-based foods and less meat and dairy products is a smart choice for your health, wallet, and the planet. These two easy, affordable and adaptable recipes are a good way to give plant-based eating a try.

The sequence of hormonal therapy and radiation affects outcomes in men treated for prostate cancer

Published November 24, 2020

A common treatment for men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer is to combine radiation with drugs that block testosterone — a hormone that makes the tumors grow faster. (This type of treatment is also called androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT). New research is suggesting the sequence of these treatments may be crucially important. Dr. Dan Spratt, […]

Age-related macular degeneration: Early detection and timely treatment may help preserve vision

Published November 24, 2020

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60. In order to preserve vision, it’s important to understand the stages of ARMD, its signs and symptoms, how the disease progresses, how to monitor it, and what treatments are available.

Driving equity in health care: Lessons from COVID-19

Published November 23, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has forced health care organizations to confront the inequities in their systems, particularly those affecting immigrants and communities of color. But once the disparities are acknowledged, what practical steps can be taken to address them?

Treating the pain of endometriosis

Published November 20, 2020

Endometriosis occurs in women when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other places in the body, most commonly within the pelvis, causing pain and other symptoms. Many women with this condition are not diagnosed properly until middle age. There are several options for treatment, and it may take time to find what works best for each person.

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