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Thoracic Medicine

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Sleep Medicine

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Long the stuff of science fiction, the disembodied 'brain in a jar' is providing science fact for researchers, who by studying the whole brains of fruit flies are discovering the inner mechanisms of jet lag.  Researchers present the first real-time imaging of intact circadian neural networks and demonstrate how light shifts disrupt biological clocks.

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Popular non-prescription and prescription medications, including the active ingredient in Benadryl, have been linked to increased risk of developing dementia by a study published in a top-tier medical journal.

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“WHEN SLEEP IS SOUND, HEALTH AND HAPPINESS ABOUND” is the slogan for World Sleep Day 2015 taking place worldwide on March 13th, 2015. Sound sleep is a treasured function and one of the pillars of health, along with a balanced diet and adequate exercise. When sleep fails, health declines. Poor sleep and bad health decrease the quality of life and take happiness away.

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TSGQ registered nurse and polysomnographic technician Travis Bell joined 612 ABC radio presenter Kelly Higgins-Devine to discuss sleep disorders on 2nd February 2015.

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Scientists have found that that activation of cholinergic neurons - those that release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine -- in two brain stem structures can induce REM sleep in an animal model. Better understanding of mechanisms that control different sleep states is essential to improved treatment of sleep disorders.

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Going to bed early could help individuals avoid repetitive negative thinking, according to a recent study. According to the authors, repetitive negative thinking is "defined as an abstract, perseverative, negative focus on one's problems and experiences that is difficult to control."

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Asbestos and the Lungs

What is Asbestos? 

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that has been used for over 4500 years.  Asbestos is one of the most useful and versatile materials known to mankind because of its flexibility, tensile strength, insulation (from heat and electricity) and chemical inertness.

Asbestos is now a banned substance in Australia due to its dangerous effects on the lungs and its connection to lung cancer.

where was asbestos used?

Asbestos was used in:
  • fibro-sheeting
  • corrugated roofing
  • asbestos cement pipes
  • thermal insulation
  • fireproofing. 
  • paints and sealants
  • textiles such as felts and theatre curtains
  • friction products like brake linings and clutches 
  • building of hospitals, schools and libraries.

Who was most at risk of asbestos exposure?

Throughout the middle of the 20th century, asbestos-related lung disease occurred at very high rates because people were exposed decades earlier to asbestos.

Most current patients were once exposed to asbestos in:

  • mines 
  • mills 
  • factories
  • homes building or renovating
  • automotive repair
  • boilermaking 
  • construction 
  • pipefitting 
  • launderers of asbestos-containing clothing

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how does asbestos get into the lungs

When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. 

Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems including lung disease.

diagnosing asbestos-related diseases

Symptoms 

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness.
  • A persistent cough that gets worse over time.
  • Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs.
  • Pain or tightening in the chest.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Swelling of the neck or face.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fatigue or anemia.

Physical examinations including lung function tests and a chest x-ray may be recommended by your physician. 

some common lung diseases associated with asbestos

Asbestosis 

Inflammation in the lung tissue leading to fibrosis.  The lung stiffens and cuts down the passage of oxygen between the air and the blood.

Mesothelioma 

A cancerous tumor of the lining of the lung and chest cavity (pleura).

Pleural Plaques 

Smooth, white, raised irregular areas of fibrous collagen tissue that develop on the pleura (lining of the lung). 

 

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ASBESTOS research group

In conjunction with the Wesley Research Institute, the Asbestos Research Group was formed in June 2008.  Karen Banton, widow of mesothelioma victim and campaigner Bernie Banton, is a patron of this new organisation.

Unique in Queensland, the group seeks to facilitate research and raise awareness of asbestosis and asbestos-related diseases both to the medical fraternity and the general community, with the aims of improving treatment and enhancing quality of life of those affected.

Currently new research programmes are being developed. 

If you are affected we would welcome your potential participation in future projects. Referrals will also be accepted by treating medical practitioners.

You can also help by donating to the Asbestos Research Group to help fund medical research that offers hope to sufferers of asbestos-related diseases would be appreciated. 

All donations over $2 are completely tax deductible and will be acknowledged by an official receipt.

To find out more, visit the Asbestos Research Group page.

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what should you do if you think you have had exposure to asbestos? 

Speak with your GP – and ask about a screening.  This may include chest x-rays, CT scans and/or lung function testing.  

Your GP may also decide to refer you to a thoracic physician who is a specialist in lung disease.

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