Information for Doctors

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Thoracic Medicine

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Sleep Medicine

Latest News

The Wall Street Journal reported recently on the topic of sleep deprivation as to which cities around the World are the most and least sleep deprived. Brisbane leads the way with the earliest bed time and earliest wake up time.

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According to new research, risk of being obese by age 21 was 20 percent higher among 16-year-olds who got less than six hours of sleep a night, compared with their peers who slumbered more than eight hours.

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As we get older there is a strong relationship between reduced amount and quality of sleep. Recent research has found specific cluster of neurons that have linked insomnia and more sleep fragmentation. The reduction of these neurons can be from normal aging but has also been seen in Alzheimers disease.

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A bedtime routine might sound like something that's only necessary for the grade-school set, but following a nightly schedule can greatly improve the sleep of adults, too. Sleep experts recommend establishing a bedtime routine, both to calm and relax you as you get ready to sleep and so you aren't inadvertently giving yourself jet lag.

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Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and elsewhere, using a mouse model, have recorded the activity of individual nerve cells in a small part of the brain that works as a "switchboard," directing signals coming from the outside world or internal memories. Because human brain disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder typically show disturbances in that switchboard, the investigators say the work suggests new strategies in understanding and treating them.

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The death rate from asthma in Australia has fallen by almost 70 per cent since the 1980s, according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

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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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