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Thoracic Medicine

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Sleep Medicine

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Interstitial Lung Disease

What is INterstitial lung disease?

Interstitial lung disease is a name that covers a group of lung conditions that cause chronic breathlessness.  The most common type of ILD is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).  The major problem with ILD is inflammation of the lung tissue leading to scarring (fibrosis) of the air sacs (alveoli) which interferes with the ability of the lungs to deliver oxygen to the body.

Interstitial lung disease is a name that covers a group of lung conditions that cause chronic breathlessness.  The most common type of ILD is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).The major problem with ILD is inflammation of the lung tissue leading to scarring (fibrosis) of the air sacs (alveoli) which interferes with the ability of the lungs to deliver oxygen to the body.

What are the symptoms of interstitial lung disease?

Breathlessness on exertion and occasionally a dry cough are the most common symptoms of interstitial lung disease.  It is uncommon for people to develop breathlessness at rest, chest pain or to have a productive cough.


Most interstitial lung diseases are caused by the body’s own inflammation and repair system.  Some ILD’s are caused by widespread disease in the body such as Sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.  ILD can be caused by viral infection, drugs, radiation and occupational hazards. 

Viral infections can sometimes cause interstitial lung disease.  Bacterial infections include pneumonia and fungal infections.

Occupations hazards include – asbestos, coal dust, cotton dust, sand (silica) dust.

Quite a few drugs taken for other diseases have side-effects that can damage the lung.  Some of these drugs include bleomycin, methotrexate and amiodarone. 

Radiation – some people who received radiation for breast or lung cancer can show signs of lung damage long after they receive the radiation treatment.  The severity of the lung disease may include how much or how long your lung was exposed to radiation, and whether there was any underlying lung disease.

how does the doctor diagnose Interstitial lung disease?

There are many different types of ILD and they are often difficult to distinguish between.  Usually the doctor will initially order at least some if not all of the following tests:

  1. Chest x-ray 
  2. Lung function testing
  3. Blood tests
  4. Computed Tomography (CT scan).
  5. Bronchoscopy

treatment of interstitial lung disease 

Treatment can involve a range of drugs depending on your type of interstitial lung disease. 


Drugs such as corticosteroids can help to reduce inflammation, azathioprine is a cytotoxic normally used to prevent organ rejection after transplantation and acetylcisteine which is a type of antioxidant. 

Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy may be prescribed by your doctor to increase the amount of oxygen circulating through your blood. 

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation may also be of some help to people to improve daily function.  This type of program focuses on teaching you how to breath more efficiently, how to exercise for your disease, education and nutritional information to improve quality of life. 


Scar tissue formation in your lungs can lead to a series of life-threatening complications, including:

Low blood oxygen levels (hypoxemia)

Because interstitial lung disease reduces the amount of oxygen you take in and the amount that enters your bloodstream, you're likely to develop lower than normal blood oxygen levels. Lack of oxygen can severely disrupt your body's basic functioning.

High blood pressure in your lungs (pulmonary hypertension)

Unlike systemic high blood pressure, this condition affects only the arteries in your lungs. It begins when scar tissue restricts the smallest blood vessels, limiting blood flow in your lungs. This in turn raises pressure within the pulmonary arteries. Pulmonary hypertension is a serious illness that becomes progressively worse.

Right-sided heart failure (cor pulmonale)

 This serious condition occurs when your heart's lower right chamber (right ventricle) — which is less muscular than the left — has to pump harder than usual to move blood through obstructed pulmonary arteries. Eventually the right ventricle fails from the extra strain.

Respiratory failure
In the end stage of chronic interstitial lung disease, respiratory failure occurs when severely low blood oxygen levels along with rising pressures in the pulmonary arteries cause heart failure.

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