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Thoracic Medicine

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Sleep Medicine

Latest News

Often times when we can’t sleep or we feel tired throughout the day, there are common “quick fixes” which we use to help us fall asleep easier and give us an extra boost in the morning. However, some of these habits can often be detrimental to your sleep health, affecting you not just at night, but throughout the day as well.

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New research has found that the less we sleep in midlife, the faster our brains can decline and lead to cognitive impairment in old age.

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“What is happening in YOUR sleep?!? How can you really know? Ever thought of using a sleep app? There are some misunderstandings to what data is relevant when using sleep apps so understanding the limitations are IMPORTANT. "It is always recommended to follow up with a sleep study to be sure nothing is missed. “

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A diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) may raise the risk of osteoporosis, particularly among women or older individuals, according to a new study. OSA is a condition that causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep. If left untreated, OSA can raise the risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.  New research shows that OSA may also increase the risk of osteoporosis.

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Insomnia predisposes individuals to increased risk of stroke and this association is profound among young adults – up to eight times greater among insomniacs 18 to 34 years old.  The results of a recent study underscore the clinical importance of identifying and treating insomnia.

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Heavy drinking damages the body in many ways. In addition to liver failure, alcoholics are at a much greater risk of developing pneumonia and life threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), for which there is no treatment. Researchers suspect that alcoholics are more susceptible to these lung diseases because the immune system in the lung is no longer strong enough to protect from infection and damage, but, it had been unclear why the immune system in the lung fails.

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Asthma

WHAT IS Asthma?

People with asthma have sensitive airways.  When exposed to certain stimuli their airways can narrow, making it harder to breathe.  This airflow obstruction is reversible either spontaneously or with treatment.  There are 3 main mechanisms for airway narrowing:

  • The inside lining of the airways can become red and swollen (inflammation)
  • Extra mucous can be produced
  • The muscle around the airways tightens (bronchoconstriction)

symptoms of asthma 

  • A dry, irritating, persistent cough – particularly at night, early morning or after exercise
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

What is the cause of asthma?

We don’t yet know what causes asthma.  Asthma can be found in people of any age and it can come and go without apparent reason.  It is known that asthma is common with a family history of asthma, eczema and hayfever.  It is also known that exposure to cigarette smoke during pregnancy and early childhood significantly increases the risk of children developing asthma.

WHAT ARE SOME ASTHMA TRIGGERS?

  • Colds and flu
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Exercise/activity
  • Inhaled allergens (e.g. pollens, moulds, animal dander and dust mites)
  • Environmental (e.g. dust, pollution, wood smoke, bush fires)
  • Changes in temperature and weather
  • Certain medications (e.g. aspirin)
  • Chemicals and strong smells (e.g. perfumes, cleaners)
  • Emotional factors (e.g. laughter, stress)

ASthma Treatments

Asthma cannot be cured.  It can however be treated and kept under control so that you can live a normal, active life.  Asthma medications fall into 2 categories, relievers and preventers.  

Relievers

Inhaled medications 

Airomir, Asmol, Bricanyl, Epaq, Ventolin (blue)

Relievers provide relief from asthma symptoms (coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath) within minutes. They work by relaxing the muscles around the airways for up to four hours, allowing air to more easily move through the airways.

Reliever inhalers are the ones to use in an asthma emergency.

Preventers

Inhaled medications 

Flixotide (orange), Intal Forte (white), Pulmicort, Qvar (brown), Tilade (yellow), Alvesco

Oral medication 

Singulair

These medications work by making the airways less sensitive. Preventers reduce the redness and swelling inside the airways and dry up mucus. They may take a few weeks to make people feel better. The medication containers are normally autumn coloured (brown, orange or yellow).

Preventers must be taken daily to keep you well, reduce the risk of asthma attacks and to prevent lung damage. A number of these medications are corticosteroids (more commonly known as ‘steroids’). They are similar to steroids that we produce naturally in our bodies. They are not the same as the anabolic steroids misused by some athletes. Do not stop taking your Preventer unless advised by your doctor.

During a severe attack of asthma when there is little response to reliever medication, your doctor may prescribe a short course (2-14 days) of Prednisone/Prednisolone, Predmix or Redipred tablets or syrup to quickly make you well.

 

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