Cover image for The Harvard Medical School family health guide
The Harvard Medical School family health guide
Komaroff, Anthony L.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [1999]

Physical Description:
1288 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Navigating the health care system -- Take charge of your health -- How your body works -- Diagnosing disease -- Symptom charts -- Brain and nervous system -- Behavioral and emotional disorders -- Eyes -- Ears, nose, and throat -- Teeth, mouth, and gums -- Lungs -- Skin, hair, and nails -- Color guide to visual diagnosis -- Cosmetic and reconstructive surgery -- Bones, joints, and muscles -- Heart, blood vessels, and circulation -- Blood disorders -- Digestive system -- Urinary system -- Hormonal disorders -- Infections and immune system diseases -- Infertility, pregnancy, and childbirth -- Health of infants and children -- Health of adolescents -- Health of women -- Health of men -- Health of seniors -- Caregiving and eldercare -- Death and dying -- Medicines -- First aid and emergency care -- Replaceable parts of irreplaceable you.
Added Author:
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC81 .H38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material

On Order



The first health guide for the era of managed care is also the only one that will never go out of date. offers page and index searches for updated information on every entry.Today we all have a better chance of living a longer, healthier life than ever before -- but only if we know how to utilize the advances in medicine science has given us. Whether you depend on traditional fee-for-service health care or some form of managed care, you must make health decisions in partnership with doctors...doctors with whom you may only spend a few minutes. How can you sort out the confusing, often contradictory health information that is bombarding you daily and communicate clearly and effectively with your doctor? How can you gain access to the best care and evaluate the care you are getting?The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide answers these essential questions and many more. The first health guide written specifically to empower readers in the era of managed care, it is the culmination of 200 years of clinical care, health education, and medical research -- bringing you the expertise of more than 7,000 health professionals from some of the nation's most esteemed hospitals and research centers. In this book, they have gathered the most authoritative, comprehensive, easy-to-understand, up-to-the-minute information about the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease in every stage of life to help you: Make the most of the time you spend with your doctor. Decide when and if you need to see a doctor. Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Explore alternative treatments safely. Choose wisely among treatment options. Access emergency and other important information easily. Learn the most effective ways to prevent disease. Consult with the most renowned doctors in America, including Herbert Benson, T. Berry Brazelton, Robert Coles, and Richard Ferber. Receive the most current information from our Web site, which gives you free online updates. Harvard Medical School consists of world-renowned affiliated hospitals, clinics, and research foundations, which include:Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center • Brigham and Women's Hospital* • Cambridge Hospital • Center for Blood Research • Children's Hospital* • Dana Farber Cancer Institute • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care • Joslin Diabetes Center* • Judge Baker Children's Center • Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary • Massachusetts General Hospital* • Massachusetts Mental Health Center • McLean Hospital • Mount Auburn Hospital • Schepens Eye Research Institute • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital • VA Boston Healthcare System(*CONSISTENTLY RANKED AMONG THE 10 BEST HEALTH INSTITUTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES)Throughout its history, Harvard's doctors have made important medical breakthroughs, including: the discovery of anesthesia • the birth of brain surgery • the first human organ transplantation (Nobel Prize) • the discovery of the polio virus (Nobel Prize) • the discovery of vitamin B12 as the cure for pernicious anemia (Nobel Prize) • the discovery of how the human eye sees (Nobel Prize) • the discovery of the aspirin-a-day prevention strategy for heart disease

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This latest single-volume medical encyclopedia is described as "the first health guide for the era of managed care." The editor and the 162 physicians who contributed to the book are all faculty members at Harvard Medical School. Pediatrician T. Barry Brazelton, psychiatrist Robert Coles, and cardiologist Herbert Benson are a few of the eminent physicians providing advice to readers. The writers assume that, like 75 percent of the insured American public, readers are part of managed-care systems. The book provides the information necessary for effective use of that system and stresses the importance of active participation in health care and maintenance. The encyclopedia begins with a chapter on navigating the health-care system, covering choosing physicians, hospitals, and insurance plans. It then discusses such standard topics as nutrition, exercise, health maintenance, and necessary care. Readers learn which tests and examinations they need at various ages, how to do self-examinations, how to prevent diseases, and how to stay healthy while traveling. Flow charts for specific symptoms guide users through the decision-making process and tell them when to consult a physician. There are chapters on diagnosing disease; diseases and disorders of specific organs and systems; the health of men, women, children, adolescents, and seniors; and caregiving, death and dying, medications, and first aid. What sets this volume apart from other excellent guides, such as Johns Hopkins Family Health Book [RBB My 1 99], is the greater depth of its explanations. The physiology section has a series of color plates that demonstrates how organ systems work together (e.g., how the autonomic nervous system regulates vital functions such as blood pressure and heart rate). Risk-benefit charts show the effectiveness of treatments and lifestyle changes. Diagnostic procedures, imaging techniques, and surgical procedures are fully explained and illustrated. The medication section includes information about drug interactions with foods and herbs as well as with other drugs. Unlike other basic medical guides, this one includes information about dental procedures and cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. It also includes alternative therapies for such common conditions as colds, constipation, and back pain. A unique chapter on replaceable parts covers both organ transplants and artificial replacements for damaged organs. The appendix contains a glossary, referral lists, and nutrition charts. The book has a free companion Web site [] for continuous updating (see Reference on the Web on p.728). This plus the easily understood, in-depth explanations of such complex subjects as genetic counseling and therapy and various kinds of clinical research studies make the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide an outstanding source. Highly recommended for consumer health collections.

Library Journal Review

The linking of a web site to the text of this exhaustive compendium of consumer health information assures readers that it will never go out of date. Though the publisher promises that the site will be free, it will only "make sense" when used in conjunction with the printed version. The topics covered are not substantially different from those found in any other quality consumer health encyclopedia (e.g., Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, LJ 12/90), but the format differs substantially, and the treatment of all topics is more in-depth. Divided into ten parts, the text begins with a discussion on how to navigate current healthcare systems; the major areas then covered include health maintenance, how diseases are diagnosed, symptom management illustrated by numerous decision trees, and diseases and disorders. There are also sections on the management of health problems specific to men and women, adolescents, children, and the aged, with a profusion of line drawings and exceptionally understandable explanations of the benefits and risks of a variety of treatments, both surgical and nonsurgical. "Home remedies" for a variety of ailments are included, as are current opinions from Harvard physicians. Appendixes consist of medical terminology, information resources (including web sites), and medical forms. This low-priced, content-heavy work is highly recommended for all public and consumer health libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/99; index and color plates not seen.]ÄMartha Stone, Massachusetts General Hosp. Lib., Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Excerpt Foreword: Welcome to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide I am proud to introduce you to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. For more than 200 years, the Harvard Medical School has provided state-of-the-art health care to millions of people from New England and all over the world. First and foremost, the 7,000 doctors on the faculty take care of patients. Harvard Medical School faculty staff some of the world's most distinguished hospitals and health care systems. We teach our patients how to stay healthy. And every day we are there to care for them when medical problems develop, whether they have a bad cold or need emergency surgery. We also teach the next generation of doctors and conduct the largest medical research program in the world. At Harvard Medical School: Anesthesia was discovered. Can you imagine having to undergo major surgery without anesthesia? The virus that causes polio was discovered, leading to the development of the polio vaccine. If you are over 50, you will remember what it was like to live with the fear that you might be the next victim of polio and paralyzed for the rest of your life. The cure for pernicious anemia was discovered. The transplantation of organs was first performed. The use of the artificial kidney was pioneered. The field of brain surgery was started. Harvard Medical School today is home to the largest and longest ongoing study of women's health -- the famous Nurses' Health Study -- and three of the largest and longest studies of men's health. We are very proud of what we have done to help people lead longer and healthier lives. We also make house calls, all over the world. For more than 20 years, Harvard Medical School has been publishing health information for the public in our newsletters. Now we are publishing books. The members of the faculty who edited this book care for patients every day. We know that people are faced with many confusing choices and with more health information than ever before. We also know that the face-to-face time you have with your doctor can be limited. This book gives you the latest information -- what you need to know to keep yourself healthy and to cope with illness. It also provides you with the information you need to navigate the sometimes confusing and frustrating world of managed care. To deal with the world of medicine, you need information that is clear, accurate, easily understandable, and accessible. This book provides that information, sometimes presented in special features, many of which cannot be found in other books. These features include: Symptom charts What do you do when you develop a particular symptom, such as sudden pain in your abdomen? Is there a home remedy, valid alternative medicine treatment, or over-the-counter medicine you can get at the drugstore? When do you need to contact the doctor? Along with several other colleagues, about 30 years ago I first developed the idea of outlining medical logic in the form of symptom charts. When you or a member of your family has a new symptom, the logically organized charts in this book will help you determine how you may be able to care for yourself, and when you need to contact the doctor. Advice for when you visit your doctor Today, more than ever, you need to know what questions to ask your doctor. And you need to know what your doctor should be doing for you. You should be getting the best medical care. For many common illnesses, we provide information about what should happen when you visit your doctor -- what issues you should discuss and what kind of a physical examination and laboratory tests your doctor should perform regularly. Think about and write down questions to discuss with your doctor before your visit. Knowing what to expect when you see your doctor can also help you judge how thorough your care has been. For an example of the kinds of questions to ask, see p.899. Advice on understanding medicines Your doctor may be too busy to fully explain all about your medicine, its benefits, and its possible side effects. In the chapter Medicines, we describe the major types of medicines that doctors prescribe today, and what they are used for. Advice on drug-drug interactions The Medicines chapter also has an extensive chart of possible adverse reactions between different drugs. If you are taking more than one medication, you need to know if there might be a dangerous interaction between them. Home remedies You don't always need a doctor. In this book, we offer home remedies that can give you relief from common cold symptoms. For an example of home remedies for the common cold, see p.461. Alternative medicine treatments A variety of alternative medicine treatments are being seriously studied at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere, and a number have been found to be beneficial. We present them in this book. Conventional medicine has been too slow to study alternative medicine treatments, some of which have won the confidence of healers and patients for thousands of years; it is wrong to reject them out of hand. Alternative medicine treatments, like new conventional treatments, need to be studied scientifically to determine their benefits and risks. For an example of an alternative treatment for chronic low back pain, see p.620. Understanding diagnostic tests Modern medicine uses many diagnostic tests. In the section called Diagnostic Tests, we describe what these tests are and what they are used for. In the Guide to Imaging, we show you the most sophisticated tests available. Take a look at the remarkable imaging procedures on p.135 that produce pictures of the inside of your body without causing you pain. We also describe many other tests performed in your doctor's office or that can be performed by you at home. Benefit and risk-assessment graphs There is so much health information available and, often, more than one treatment for a problem. How do you choose among them? We provide information about the benefits and risks of various diagnostic tests and treatments, and the benefits of adapting certain lifestyle changes designed to preserve your health. This numerical information is provided in easy-to-grasp graphs. An example, showing the benefits and risks of blood-thinning treatment, can be found on p.348. Advice from Harvard doctors Some of the best doctors on the Harvard Medical School faculty have provided personal words of advice based on their experience -- the advice they give their own patients. For example, take a look at Dr Brazelton's advice on the developmental touchpoints in your young child, Dr Lipson's advice on back surgery, Dr Samuels' advice on preventing strokes, Dr Benson's advice on the relaxation response, and Dr Ferber's advice on helping your young child learn healthy sleep habits. First-person stories We present the personal statements of people who have suffered from an illness, and sometimes how they have coped with it. For example, author John Updike describes what it is like to live with psoriasis, the actress Patty Duke describes her experience with bipolar disorder, and an anonymous person -- perhaps someone like you -- talks about living with gout. Advice on understanding how your body works Other books describe how your body is built. We show you how your body works -- in colorful art that clearly depicts how you see, hear, move, digest food, circulate blood, and so forth. To better understand what can go wrong with your body, it is important to understand how your body works when it is healthy. Advice on finding health care resources In the Appendix, we provide the names, addresses, phone numbers, and (when available) Internet addresses of the agencies and organizations that can help you with many different problems, particularly community support services. Glossary A glossary defining various medical terms is found on p.1220. On-line updates As a purchaser of this book, you will have access to a special Harvard Medical School site on the World Wide Web that will provide you with updated information. The Web site address appears at the bottom of the Index pages. The Web site contains: New information since the book was published that the editors think is important Additional color pictures beyond what could be included in the book Interactive features that are not possible in a printed version of any book Listing of the Harvard Medical School Newsletters, including sample content from recent issues and the ability to order the newsletters on-line This material will remain on the Web site until the publication of the book's second edition. At that time, a new Web site providing updated information to the second edition will be created. Advice on dealing with the health care system Dealing with the health care system can be a pain in the neck. The many different kinds of health insurance policies and managed care programs can be very confusing. Also, doctors are under increased pressure to see more patients -- which means they have less time to spend with you. Throughout this book, we provide information that will enable you to be your own advocate in obtaining the best health care. In Navigating the Health Care System, we specifically discuss managed care, health insurance, ways to get information about the quality of care in various health care systems, and the quality of care by doctors. Having this book on a shelf in your home can help you stay healthy, cope with illness, and deal with the health care system, particularly the world of managed care. My colleagues and I have spent literally thousands of hours putting this book together. I have personally written or edited every word and the captions for every drawing or picture. For some of us, you might even call this book an obsession. Just ask my wife. We wanted to give you the clearest, most current, and most complete information possible -- information you can use today, when you or a loved one is faced with a frightening symptom, a new diagnosis, or a recommendation to have a test or a treatment that may have risks as well as benefits. With this book, the other books that will follow, and our newsletters, we think we have done that; we hope that you agree. Acknowledgments Harvard Medical School More than 165 members of the Harvard Medical School faculty participated in the writing and editing of this book. I am enormously grateful to the associate editors who pulled together many of the book's chapters, as well as to the many contributing editors who gave generously of their time, experience, and wisdom. My special thanks go to deans Daniel Tosteson, MD, and Joseph Martin, MD, PhD; executive deans David Bray and Paul Levy, and colleagues dean Daniel Moriarty, Elizabeth Allison, PhD, Robert Donin, and Cynthia Glott, without whom the Harvard Health Publications program would not have become a reality. I must also thank my wife, Lydia Villa-Komaroff, and my colleagues at Harvard Medical School who, through observing my occasional absences from the normal activities of life, came to appreciate how editing a book of this size and complexity can become all-consuming. Thank you for your patience. Simon & Schuster It was a great pleasure to work directly with Simon & Schuster and the Stonesong Press as the book was taking shape. I am especially grateful to Roslyn Siegel and William Rosen at Simon & Schuster for their ongoing support and superb editorial advice; to Paul Fargis, Ellen Scordato, Martin Lubin, and their colleagues at The Stonesong Press and Martin Lubin Graphic Design for their great skill in producing a beautiful-looking book; and to Robin Husayko for her remarkably careful and thoughtful copy-editing. Finally, my eternal gratitude to editorial director Heidi Hough of Heidi Hough & Associates Inc, who worked tirelessly and skillfully to organize this enormous project, and to make sure that everything in it was clear and comprehensible. We couldn't have created this book without the help and involvement of everyone, especially Heidi Hough. Anthony L. Komaroff, MD Editor in Chief Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Publications Boston, Massachusetts September 1999 Copyright (c) 1999 Anthony L. Komaroff. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. 8
Navigating the Health Care Systemp. 17
Take Charge of Your Healthp. 31
How to Stay Healthyp. 31
Diet and Nutritionp. 39
Exercise and Fitnessp. 51
Using Addictive Substancesp. 57
Contraception and Safer Sexp. 69
Medical Checkups and Screening Testsp. 78
Safety and Preventing Injuryp. 86
Stressp. 90
Preventing Infectionp. 92
Immunizations and Travel Healthp. 94
How Your Body Worksp. 97
How You Read and Rememberp. 97
How You Speak and Understand Speechp. 98
How You Recognize Objectsp. 99
How You Seep. 100
How You Hearp. 101
How You Feel Painp. 102
How You Smell and Tastep. 103
How You Movep. 104
Your Vital Functions and the Autonomic Nervous Systemp. 106
How You Circulate Bloodp. 108
How You Make Bloodp. 109
How You Breathep. 110
How Hormones Workp. 111
How You Digestp. 112
How You Eliminate Wastes and Keep Fluids in Balancep. 114
How Your Kidneys Workp. 115
How You Reproducep. 116
How You Fight Bacterial Infectionsp. 118
How You Fight Viral Infectionsp. 119
How You Heal Injuriesp. 120
Diagnosing Diseasep. 121
You and Your Doctorp. 121
Understanding Geneticsp. 126
Guide to Imagingp. 135
Diagnostic Testsp. 153
Going to the Hospitalp. 163
Symptom Chartsp. 171
How to Use the Symptom Chartsp. 171
General Symptomsp. 172
Women's Symptomsp. 266
Symptoms of Infants and Childrenp. 293
Men's Symptomsp. 330
Brain and Nervous Systemp. 337
Strokep. 342
Headachep. 354
Cancerp. 357
Injuriesp. 359
Thinking Disordersp. 362
Other Degenerative Diseasesp. 368
Other Nervous System Disordersp. 373
Sleep and Sleep Problemsp. 383
Behavioral and Emotional Disordersp. 391
Treatmentp. 392
Types of Therapyp. 393
Mood and Anxiety Disordersp. 395
Personality Disordersp. 407
Psychosesp. 409
Other Behavioral and Emotional Disordersp. 411
Eyesp. 415
Eyelidsp. 418
Focusing Problemsp. 420
Outer Surface of the Eyep. 427
Inside the Eyep. 430
Other Eye Conditionsp. 445
Ears, Nose, and Throatp. 447
Earsp. 449
Nosep. 460
Throatp. 466
Teeth, Mouth, and Gumsp. 469
Preventing Tooth Decay and Plaquep. 470
Common Dental Problemsp. 474
Common Dental Proceduresp. 479
Dental Injuriesp. 485
Cosmetic Improvement of Teethp. 486
Sores of the Mouth, Lip, and Tonguep. 487
Cancerous and Precancerous Conditions of the Mouthp. 489
Tongue Variationsp. 490
Problems of the Salivary Glandsp. 491
Lungsp. 493
Infectionsp. 494
Asthmap. 505
Lung Cancerp. 523
Skin, Hair, and Nailsp. 527
Skinp. 529
Hairp. 555
Nailsp. 558
Color Guide to Visual Diagnosisp. 561
Fungal Infectionsp. 561
Bacterial Infectionsp. 562
Other Important Skin Conditionsp. 562
Noncancerous (Benign) Growthsp. 564
Precancerous Growthsp. 564
Cancerous (Malignant) Growthsp. 565
Infestations with Insectsp. 566
Scaling and Itching Conditionsp. 566
Injuriesp. 567
Hair Loss for Unknown Reasonsp. 567
Infections of the Nailsp. 567
Disorders of the Mouthp. 567
Disorders of the Eyes and Eyelidsp. 567
Common Childhood Diseasesp. 568
Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgeryp. 569
Breastsp. 572
Facep. 575
Skinp. 581
Body Shapingp. 588
Bones, Joints, and Musclesp. 591
Bonesp. 593
Jointsp. 601
Muscles, Tendons, and Ligamentsp. 610
Neck, Shoulders, Arms, and Handsp. 612
Back, Hips, Legs, and Feetp. 618
Heart, Blood Vessels, and Circulationp. 641
Blood Pressurep. 643
Disease of the Heart's Arteries: Coronary Artery Diseasep. 652
Abnormal Heart Rate and Rhythmp. 671
Diseases of the Heart Muscle and Liningp. 681
Diseases of the Heart Valvesp. 689
Disease of the Arteries and Veinsp. 698
Blood Disordersp. 709
Blood Donation and Transfusionp. 711
Anemiap. 713
Cancers of the Blood Cells (Leukemias)p. 724
Cancers of the Lymph Glands (Lymphomas)p. 727
Other Blood Disordersp. 734
Cancerp. 738
Digestive Systemp. 743
Esophagusp. 746
Stomachp. 752
Liverp. 758
Pancreasp. 768
Gallbladder and Bile Ductsp. 770
Small Intestinep. 774
Diarrheal Diseases and Disordersp. 778
Large Intestinep. 781
Rectal and Anal Disordersp. 794
Other Gastrointestinal Tract Disordersp. 798
Urinary Systemp. 803
Urinary Tract Infection and Inflammationp. 804
Kidney Disease and Kidney Failurep. 810
Cancerp. 822
Other Urinary Tract Disordersp. 824
Hormonal Disordersp. 829
Diabetesp. 832
Thyroid Gland Disordersp. 844
Parathyroid Gland Disordersp. 852
Metabolic Disordersp. 853
Adrenal Gland Disordersp. 856
Pituitary Gland Disordersp. 859
Superhormonesp. 861
Infections and Immune System Diseasesp. 863
Infectionsp. 871
Immune System Diseasesp. 894
Infertility, Pregnancy, and Childbirthp. 903
Infertilityp. 904
Pregnancyp. 914
Common Discomforts of Pregnancyp. 923
Serious Conditions of Pregnancyp. 928
Childbirthp. 935
Health of Infants and Childrenp. 945
Immunizations and the Diseases They Preventp. 946
Health and Development of Children Younger Than Age 2p. 951
Health and Development of Children Older Than Age 2p. 987
Health of Adolescentsp. 1021
For Parents: Knowing Your Adolescent Childp. 1021
For Teens: Knowing Yourselfp. 1025
Health of Womenp. 1039
A Woman's Reproductive Systemp. 1039
Tests Women May Havep. 1041
Menstruationp. 1043
Menopausep. 1047
Breastsp. 1053
Vulvap. 1063
Vaginap. 1064
Cervixp. 1066
Uterusp. 1070
Ovaries and Fallopian Tubesp. 1076
Sexualityp. 1081
Problems with Female Sexual Functionp. 1081
Women and Violencep. 1083
Health of Menp. 1085
Penisp. 1086
Testicles and Scrotump. 1088
Sexualityp. 1090
Problems with Male Sexual Functionp. 1091
Prostate Glandp. 1095
The Aging Malep. 1110
Health of Seniorsp. 1111
Strength Training for Seniorsp. 1112
How Our Senses Change with Agep. 1113
Health Issues of Older Adultsp. 1113
Caregiving and Eldercarep. 1119
Caregiving in Your Homep. 1119
Support Systemsp. 1129
Living Arrangementsp. 1132
Caregiving for a Person With Alzheimer Disease or Other Dementiap. 1135
Death and Dyingp. 1137
Issues at the End of Lifep. 1138
Putting Affairs in Orderp. 1142
After Deathp. 1143
Medicinesp. 1147
The Basicsp. 1147
Safetyp. 1151
Managing Your Medicinesp. 1156
Common Drug Classesp. 1159
Drug Indexp. 1162
Drug Interactions Chartp. 1166
First Aid and Emergency Carep. 1189
Emergency Care: A to Zp. 1190
Replaceable Parts of Irreplaceable Youp. 1217
Appendixp. 1220
Medical Terminologyp. 1220
Glossaryp. 1220
Board-Certified Medical Specialistsp. 1227
Information Resourcesp. 1227
Diseases, Conditions, and Issues: Private Organizationsp. 1227
Diseases, Conditions, and Issues: Federal Agenciesp. 1237
Medical Internet Resourcesp. 1238
National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centersp. 1238
Poison Control Centersp. 1238
Medical Forms and Chartsp. 1242
Living Willsp. 1242
Medical Records Summaryp. 1245
Type of Activity and Calories Burnedp. 1246
Calorie, Fiber, and Fat Content of Common Foodsp. 1246
Indexp. 1249