Information for Doctors

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Thoracic Medicine

Think you might have a breathing disorder or just looking for more information?

Sleep Medicine

Latest News

Sleep apnoea may make it hard for you to remember simple things, such as where you parked your car or left your house keys, a small study suggests.

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Researchers believe that disrupted circadian clocks are the reason that shift workers experience higher incidences of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer. The body's primary circadian clock, which regulates sleep and eating, is in the brain. But other body tissues also have circadian clocks, including the liver, which regulates blood glucose levels.

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In recent research is has been found that disruption to rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep caused by sleep apnoea, may affect an individual’s capacity to form new spatial memories.

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Office workers with more light exposure at work had longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace.

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Can you be sleep deprived without knowing it? Sleep is not always prioritised however the implications can be devastating. Even one night sleep deprived can be impacting your body on a variety of different levels; physically and psychologically. The only way to know if you are getting consolidated sleep is to monitor with specialised equipment what is happening when you are asleep.

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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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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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