Is crying good for you?

March 2, 2021 Adiantku 0

It’s safe to say that 2020 gave us more than enough to cry about. Yet even prior to last year, it seems that we were crying fairly often. Researchers note that, on average, American women cry 3.5 times each month, while American men cry about 1.9 times each month. These figures may take some of us by surprise, especially as our society has often looked at crying — particularly by men — as a sign of weakness and lack of emotional stamina.

Health benefits of crying

As a phenomenon that is unique to humans, crying is a natural response to a range of emotions, from deep sadness and grief to extreme happiness and joy. But is crying good for your health? The answer appears to be yes. Medical benefits of crying have been known as far back as the Classical era. Thinkers and physicians of ancient Greece and Rome posited … Read the rest

Seeking solace, finding resilience in a pandemic

March 1, 2021 Adiantku 0

In times like these, it can feel wrong to feel happy. There is so much suffering in the world that appreciating the goodness that still exists can seem unempathic, if not altogether futile. A landmark study on happiness often mentioned at dinner parties and social gatherings (when we had those things) considered how people react to intense, sudden changes to their circumstances. The researchers found that people who had recently won the lottery were no happier after some time had passed than people who had experienced severe trauma that paralyzed their lower bodies. It’s a testament to stubbornness as our common lot in life — and the resilience we also share.

The lottery winners seemed to lose their ability to find joy in mundane aspects of their lives, while the survivors of trauma had a different experience entirely: they focused more on idealized memories of their past, perhaps at the … Read the rest

Grandparents and vaccines: Now what?

February 28, 2021 Adiantku 0

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the US, many grandparents — including one co-author of this blog post — are thrilled to hold out their arms for a jab. In some parts of the country, these vaccinations began as early as mid-January. By mid-February, legions of energized and relieved seniors were trading selfie shots of their newly vaccinated arms.

Grandparents, like other seniors, wanted the vaccine to keep themselves safe. However, there was another compelling reason: the desire to hug grandchildren. Ellen Glazer, LICSW, asked fellow grandparents in different states — some of whom live minutes away from grandchildren and some who are separated by continents — what they look forward to once fully vaccinated.

Below, Amy Sherman, MD, an infectious disease specialist and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, weighs in on a number of hopes and questions — some very specific, and some that can help everyone. … Read the rest

New school guidelines around COVID-19: What parents need to know

February 27, 2021 Adiantku 0

We all want our children to be able to go back to school. What we don’t want is for them — or their teachers — to get sick from COVID-19.

There is no easy, let alone perfect, solution, which is why, a year into the pandemic, there is no clear way forward. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines to serve as a roadmap for navigating this difficult part of our pandemic journey.

According to these new guidelines, all schools offering in-person learning should prioritize universal, correct use of masks and physical distancing. The CDC also notes three more strategies are essential for safe in-person instruction: hand washing, cleaning school facilities, and contact tracing. Layering together these five strategies can help lessen the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

Below are key highlights from the CDC guidelines.

Children need to be in school

I … Read the rest

Want to feel more connected? Practice empathy

February 26, 2021 Adiantku 0

Do you ever wish that a certain person in your life would make the effort to truly understand where you’re coming from? That ability — being empathic — comes more easily to some people than to others. Empathy helps people get along with others, from loved ones to strangers. So it’s worth considering your own aptitude for empathy, which you can hone just like any other skill.

“While either genetic proclivity or our upbringing makes some people naturally empathic, empathy can be cultivated at any point in our lives,” says Dr. Ronald Siegal, PsyD, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Empathy helps us understand other people, so we feel more connected and able to help one another through difficult times, he adds.

What is empathy?

Empathy is a key aspect of emotional intelligence, which also includes the ability to identify and regulate one’s own emotions, and to use … Read the rest

Lowering cholesterol protects your heart and brain, regardless of your age

February 25, 2021 Adiantku 0

High or abnormal cholesterol levels, inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction play a key role in atherosclerosis and plaque buildup, the most common cause of heart attacks and strokes. (Endothelial dysfunction refers to impaired functioning of the inner lining of blood vessels on the heart’s surface. It results in these vessels inappropriately narrowing instead of widening, which limits blood flow.) There are many different types of cholesterol, including high density lipoprotein (HDL, or good, cholesterol); triglycerides (a byproduct of excess calories consumed, which are stored as fat); and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol).

It’s well established that lowering LDL cholesterol, sometimes regardless of whether or not you have high cholesterol, improves cardiovascular outcomes. But do older adults reap the same benefits from lowering cholesterol, and do they face additional risks?

Lowering LDL reduces cardiovascular risk

Studies have consistently shown that lowering LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attacks, … Read the rest

Natural remedies for hemorrhoids

February 24, 2021 Adiantku 0

Hemorrhoids are painful, unpleasant, and, um, well, difficult to talk about. But they actually are quite common: about half of people over age 50 have had them. However, they’re easy to treat and manage.

“Hemorrhoids can be troublesome and embarrassing, but they often shrink on their own with simple self-help care and over-the-counter remedies,” says Dr. Howard LeWine, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins near the anus. Common symptoms are rectal pain, itching, bleeding, and occasional protruding veins outside the anus.

There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. You can have either type by itself, or both at the same time.

Internal hemorrhoids. These form inside the anal canal and usually are painless. However, they may cause intermittent bleeding with bowel movements, and sometimes discharge mucus. Internal hemorrhoids also can protrude outside the anus and look like small, … Read the rest

Does your health monitor have device bias?

February 21, 2021 Adiantku 0

In recent years, there’s been a veritable explosion in the number and type of health monitoring devices available in smartphones and fitness apps.

Your smartphone is likely tracking the number of steps you take, how far and fast you walk, and how many flights of stairs you climb each day. Some phones log sleep, heart rate, how much energy you’re burning, and even “gait health” (how often are both feet on the ground? how even are your steps?). And, of course, nonphone wearables and fitness gadgets are available, such as devices to measure your heart rhythm, blood pressure, or oxygen levels. The accuracy of these devices varies — and, in some instances, your skin tone may make a difference.

Generally, how accurate are health monitors?

I know from my experience with hospital monitoring devices that they aren’t always accurate. False alarms from EKG monitors often send medical staff scurrying into … Read the rest

The link between abdominal fat and death: What is the shape of health?

February 20, 2021 Adiantku 0

Body mass index, or BMI, has long been the standard tool for assessing weight status and health risk. A calculation of your size that takes into account your height and weight, BMI is frequently used because it’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive measurement tool. Yet, it lacks any assessment of how much fat a person has or how it’s distributed throughout the body, both of which are key indicators of metabolic health. A recent study published in The BMJ analyzed different measures of body shape — more specifically, of central or abdominal fat — to determine which measures were most predictive of premature death.

Abdominal fat associated with higher risk of death

Researchers in this study analyzed the following measurements of central fatness: waist, hip, and thigh circumference; waist-to-hip ratio; waist-to-height ratio; waist-to-thigh ratio; body adiposity index (which incorporates hip circumference and height); and a body shape index (calculated … Read the rest

Why won’t some health care workers get vaccinated?

February 19, 2021 Adiantku 0

Many Americans cannot wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine. They call hotline numbers. They search online for vaccine clinics. They wait for hours in line. Yet, others with ready access to the vaccine have declined it in large numbers. Staff in long-term care facilities were prioritized to receive the vaccine, but many are choosing not to get vaccinated. Why?

Nobody is more familiar with the impact of COVID-19 than staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities that have been ground zero for the pandemic. Large numbers of residents and staff have contracted the virus. Nearly 40% of the COVID deaths in the US have occurred among residents of these facilities. Over 1,500 nursing home staff have also died from COVID, making nursing home caregiver the most dangerous job in America.

Nonetheless, many long-term care staff continue to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. In a recent CDC report, nursing … Read the rest