Information for Doctors

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Thoracic Medicine

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Sleep Medicine

Latest News

In what may be the largest study of sleep problems among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), researchers at UC Davis have found that widely undiagnosed sleep disorders may be at the root of the most common and disabling symptom of the disease: fatigue. Study paticipant reports of sleep disorder frequency, sleep patterns and complaints of excessive daytime sleepiness suggest that sleep problems may be a hidden epidemic in the MS population.

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A sleep-promoting circuit located deep in the primitive brainstem has revealed how we fall into deep sleep. Discovered by researchers at Harvard School of Medicine and the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, this is only the second "sleep node" identified in the mammalian brain whose activity appears to be both necessary and sufficient to produce deep sleep.  Using designer genes, researchers were able to 'turn on' specific neurons in the brainstem that result in deep sleep.

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Insomnia can cause chronic inflammation, which can lead to weight gain, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and earlier death. This study finds that curing the insomnia reduces the inflammation and hopefully reduces disease. It also found the best way to cure lack of sleep is through the use of a common psychotherapy treatment - cognitive behavioural therapy.

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Getting enough sleep is important to people of any age, but it is especially so for teenagers, with insufficient sleep possibly being linked to obesity as an adult.

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A study is shining new light on a sleep disorder called “sleep drunkenness.” The disorder may be as prevalent as affecting one in every seven people. Sleep drunkenness disorder involves confusion or inappropriate behaviour, such as answering the phone instead of turning off the alarm, during or following arousals from sleep, either during the first part of the night or in the morning. An episode, often triggered by a forced awakening, may even cause violent behaviour during sleep or amnesia of the episode.

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Ever wondered about the effects of binge sleeping? Are naps bad or how long should you nap for? For all these myths debunked follow the link

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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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