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Posts Tagged ‘doctors

brain-damage

Studies show that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects much more than just your sleep. It can even damage your brain.

A recent brain imaging study from France involved 16 adults. Each of them had just been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

In numerous brain regions the study found a loss of “gray matter.” This is brain tissue that contains fibers and nerve cell  bodies. There also was a decrease in brain metabolism.

The authors suggest that these changes may explain some of the impairments that often occur in people with sleep apnea. Examples include attention lapses and memory loss. The study was published in March 2009 issue of the Journal of Sleep Research.

The results are similar to those found by a research team from UCLA. Their study was published in Neuroscience Letters in June 2008. They reported that people with sleep apnea have tissue loss in the “mammillary bodies.” These are brain regions that help store memory.

In July 2008 the UCLA team published another brain imaging study in the journal Sleep.It involved 41 people with moderate to severe sleep apnea. It also included 69 control subjects matched by age.

Results show that people with sleep apnea have extensive alterations in “white matter.” This is nerve tissue in the brain. It contains fibers that are insulated with myelin -a white, fatty sheath. The structural changes appear in brain regions that help control mood and memory. These regions also play a role in adjusting your blood pressure. Damage also was found in fiber pathways that connect these brain regions.

What causes the brain damage? The authors suggest that oxygen, blood flow and blood pressure may be involved. Sleep apnea involves breathing pauses that can occur hundreds of times a night of sleep. These pauses can produce drastic changes in oxygen levels.

These breathing pauses also reduce blood flow in the brain. People with sleep apnea also are at risk for high blood pressure. Both of these conditions create a potential for brain tissue damage.

Dr. Ronald Harper of UCLA said that the studies show how important it is for sleep apnea to be treated. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. The findings make it all the more imperative that OSA be treated as soon as possible to prevent further injury. The long-term effects of OSA are terribly damaging to memory and thinking processes.

Can treatment reverse the brain damage caused by sleep apnea? The authors are uncertain if the changes are permanent.

But studies show that CPAP does help your heart, it may even save your life.

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mind-racing

Insomnia can make you feel like your mind is racing out of control. A revealing new study explains why your brain may be unable to put the brakes on your thoughts. It links the problem to low levels of a brain chemical.

A new study shows that GABA levels are reduced by 30 percent in adults with chronic primary insomnia. The study was published in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

GABA is reduced in the brain of individuals with insomnia, suggesting over activity is present. It was explained that low GABA levels create an imbalance of brain activity. This may lead to an inability to shut down waking signals in the brain.

If your GABA levels are low, then your mind can’t slow down. It may race forward at full speed even when it is time to sleep. An over active mind is a key feature of psychophsicological insomnia. At bedtime you are unable to stop thinking and worrying. Your body may be ready for sleep, but your mind remains alert. This state of “hyperarousal” can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

Most with insomnia have “secondary” insomnia. It occurs along with another medical problem, mental illness or sleep disorder. It also may result from the use of a medication or substance. In contrast primary insomnia is unrelated to another health problem. Estimates that about 25 percent of people with insomnia have primary insomnia. The study only links low GABA levels to long lasting, primary insomnia.

All participants in the study had been suffering from primary insomnia for mor than six months. The average duration of their symptoms was about 10 years. The GABA connection affirms that primary insomnia is a legitimate disorder.

Recognition that insomnia has manifestations in the brain may increase the legitimacy of those who have insomnia and report substantial daytime  consequences. It was also explained that insomnia can affect your energy, concentration and mood. It also increases your risk of depression.

One solution for the problem of primary insomnia is the use of hypnotic medication. The short-term use of a sleeping pill can help break the cycle of sleepless nights. The study notes that many of the most effective sleeping pills increase activity at the GABA neurons.

Another treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps you learn how to correct attitudes and habits that hinder your sleep. Many of these bad habits develop as people try to cope with chronic insomnia.

saving money

 Current economic conditions in the U.S. are forcing many consumers to cut back on health care expenses. Yet sleep experts advise that the cost of a sleep study is a sound investment for millions of people who suffer from a sleep disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 15 million adults in the U.S. did not receive needed medical care in 2005 because they could not afford it. In July, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners conduted a national survey. Results show that 22 percent of people have reduced the number of times they visit the doctor because to current economic conditions.

 In such a challenging economy, should your sleep needs be a priority?

Sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. It affects everything from your weight and blood pressure to your energy and mood. If you have been struggling with an ongoing sleep problem, then a sleep study may be just what you need. It could be the key that unlocks the door to a dramatic improvement in your health and a better quality of life for you.

 Losing sleep over the economy, but losing sleep over an undiagnosed problem is no fun.

People are notorious for underestimating how sleepy they are. People assume that thier disrupted sleep and level of sleepiness when awake is normal for their age. Symptoms of some sleep disorders also can go unnoticed. For example loud snoring and gasping for breath durning sleep are two warning signs for sleep apnea. But you may be unaware of these sym if you live or sleep alone. As a result, millions of people go through each day wondering why they can’t stay awake. Others go to bed each night wondering why they can’t sleep. The answers to these questions often can be found by a sleep study…

    Here are some benefits to think about:
Research shows that there are numerous benefits to detecing a sleep disorder with a sleep study.  The study pinpoints the nature and cause of your sleep problem. This provides the foundation for an effective treatment plan. Treating a sleep disorder promotes heath, productivity and well-being. In the long run it also can save you money!

  • Improved Health
    Research has linked sleep disorders to many other health problems. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and obesity. A study in the journal Sleep even shows that people with severe, untreated sleep apnea have five times the risk of dying from a heart problem. Effective treatment of a sleep disorder can reduce the risk and severity of other related health challenges.
  • Reduced Spending
    Studies have linked undetected and untreated sleep disorders to an increase in health-care utilization and spending. You are likely to make more visits to the doctor’s office each year. You are also likely to spend more money on your health care. Expenses may include testing, medications and hospitalization. Research shows that effective treatment of a sleep disorder can reduce your health-care spending. Compared to the high cost of remaining untreated, treating most sleep disorders is relative inexpensive.
  • Greater Productivity
    Studies have linked sleep disorders to lower productivity and more absences at work. A severe sleep disorder may even prevent you from being able to stay employed. Effective treatments of a sleep disorder can enable you to improve your job performance.
  • Better Safety
    Research has linked sleep disorders to an increased risk of work-related injuries and motor-vehicle accidents. Effective treatments promotes your safety at work on the roads.
  • Improved Quality of Life
    Sleep disorders can take a severe tool on your personal well-being. Taking care of yourself leads to improvements in your mood, attitude, energy, memory and overall outlook on life. Sleep disturbances can put strain on your relationships.

Mysleepapnea.com can help you with obtaining a Home Sleep Test.

badhabits

Bad Sleep Habits: it involves the things that you do normally everyday. Although, these habits keep your sleep from being refreshing. They can also keep you from feeling alert during the day. These activities are all the things that you should be able to control. These specific behaviors fall into the follow two general categories:

     1.  Practices that keep you awake.

     2.  Practices that bring disorder to your sleep schedule

Many common factors may keep you awake at night. At first, alcohol may make you sleepy; but it is also more likely to wake you up during the night. Drinking coffee or colas that contain caffeine can make you more alert. The nicotine ina cigarette can have the same effect. People often use these substances to “keep their edge” during the day. This “edge” is not always gone by the time they try to go to sleep.

Other factors that cause you to stay awake when they occure too close to bedtime include the following:

  • Worry
  • Excitement
  • Mental stress
  • Physical exercise

Many other practices can keep you from having a regular pattern of sleeping and waking up. Perhaps you are unable to fall asleep because you spend too much time in bed. Maybe you don’t go to bed and wake up at the same times everyday. Or maybe you nap too often, too long, or too close to your bedtime. These bad habits can confuse your body. This will cause you to stay awake when you should really be asleep.

You can be affected in the followig negative ways:

  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Short attention span
  • Poor concentration
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Frustration with sleeping
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Alcohol abuse or dependence

It may often be obvious to other people around you that the things your are doing are hurting your sleep. You, however, may be completely unaware of it. You may also find that your sleep problems tend to come and go. This is because you are likely to change your sleep habits over time.

  Who gets it?
It is typically not found in younge children. It may develop though, as early as the teen years.

It may also begin at anytime throughout adulthood. The timing of when it begins depends on when the habits that distrurb sleep are developed. The rate at which it affects males and females differently is not known.

  How do I know if I have it?
First, you need to determine if you have insomnia:

  1. Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early, or not feeling refreshed after sleeping?
  2. For a child, does the child resist going to sleep or sleeping alone?
  3. Does this problem occur even though you have the opportunity and the time to get a good night’s sleep?
  4. Dout have at least one of the following problems? You have:
  • Low energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Attention, concentration or memory problems
  • Poor performances at school or work
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Trouble making errors at work or while driving
  • Tension, headaches or stomach aches
  • Frustration or worry about your sleep

If your answer to each of these questions is yes, then you might have insomnia. Now continue to see if you might have inadequate sleep hygiene”

  1. Have you had these problems for at least one month?
  2. Do you you have at least one of the following bad habits?
  • You have a bad sleep schedule. You nap a lot, go to bed and wake up at different times everyday, or spend too much time in bed.
  • You often use products with alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine near bedtime
  • You actively do things that excite your mind, body, or emotions near bedtime.
  • You often use the bed to do things other than sleep. This includes paying bills, talking on the phone and eating.
  • You do not keep a comfortable sleeping environment. Research shows that having your bedroom slightly cooler ( via a cieling fan and the slight noise of the fan) are helpful. Low dim lighting such as nightlights are requested, and lavender sented candles can help soothe you into a good sleep regimen.

If you also answered yes to these questions, then you may have inadequate sleep hygiene.

It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing your sleep problems. They may be a result of one of the following:

  • Another sleep disorder
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse

  Do I need to see a sleep specialist?
Talk with a family doctor about your difficulty sleeping. See if you are able to correct the bad sleep habits that are affecting your sleep. Are you having a hard time improving your habits? Or are you still having a sleep problem even after making these changes? If so, then you made need to see a sleep specialist.

  What will the doctor need to know?
First, the doctor will need to know when your insomnia started. He or she will also want to know what else has been going on in your life. The doctor will need to know about any other medical problems you have today or had in the past. Be sure to tell the doctor if you are taking any medications.

Keep a sleep dieary for two weeks. The sleep diary will help the doctor see your sleeping patterns. The sleep diary information gives the doctor clues about what is causing your problem and how to correct it.

  Will I need to take any test?
Doctors do not need any tests to treat most insomnia patients. A sleep specialists may give you a written test to analyze your mental and emotional well-being. The specialist may need to test your blood in the lab if he or she thinks that you have a related medical problem.

  How is it treated?
Many cases of insomnia will respond to changes that you can make on your own. You can often sleep better by simply following the practices of good sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene consists of basic habits and tips that help you develop a pattern of healthy sleep. There are also easy ways to make your bed and bedroom more comfortable.

  You need to seek help from a therapist if stress or depression is the cause of your sleep problems.

When self-treatment does not work, a doctor can provide help. Doctors can teach you different ways to improve your sleep. An example of this is to use relaxation exercises when you go to bed. They can also help you find ways to take your mind off of sleep. Staying out of bed until you are tired is a good way to start off slowly. These methods are a part of what is known as behavioral therapy. With slow changes, you will see the biggest change at the end, feeling refreshed and happy.

  An independent link between sleep apnea and mortality was discovered by a group of Australian researchers, suggesting the prevention and treatment of this condition should be a higher priority for government bodies working to improve community health.

The study conducted by the Woolocock institute of Medical Research in Sydney found moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was associated with 33% mortality over 14 years in people with no sleep apnea.

This is the first report to demonstrate an independent association between all-cause mortality and obstructive sleep apnea in a population-based cohort. The community based sample of 380 people comprised men and women from Western Australia who underwent investigation with a home sleep apnea monitoring device in 1990.

The study results confirm the pattern seen in clinic or hospital-based studies where people more severely afflicted by the disease may have potentially biased results.

Findings of the study have important implications for the direction of health policy in Australia.

Because sleep apnea is strongly associated with obesity, and its related diseases, it has been difficult in the past to produce clear evidence that increased mortality is a result of OSA and not because of other established causes.

The evidence is now available and shows the moderate to severe sleep apnea is associated with about five times the risk of dying after you control for the other factors that are already know to cause premature death.

The study results highlighted a need to increase research funding to investigate whether treatment of sleep apnea can decrease heart attacks, strokes and premature deaths.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a deadly disease and it is now time for public health and medical practitioners as well as the general public to take it seriously.

It may not seem this way on the surface, but to a sleep doctor there’s a big difference between someone feeling “tired” and someone feeling “sleepy”.

  • Tired means you lack energy, have trouble focusing, and feel “out of it” all the time.
  • Sleepy means you’re yawing, nodding off, and can’t keep your eyes open.

How you feel during the day is a key piece of information for doctors because different sleep disorders have differet symptoms. Insomnia patients are constantly tired but rarely feel the urge to sleep during the day. Sleep apnea and narcolepsy patients are tired too, but they are constantly fighting off sleep.

The clearer you are in describing your symptoms, the quicker your doctor can get you the help you need. Insomnia isn’t immediately life-threaterning, but sleep apnea, with often goes undiagnosed for years, can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

The risk of people with sleep apnea falling asleep at the wheel is also very real. People with the disorder are twice as likely to have a car crash, and three to five times as likely to have a serious accident involving personal injury, according to a 2007 study conducted in Vancouver.

 While sleep apnea patients often omit the critical word “sleepy” when describing their daytime symptoms, insomniacs rately make the mistake of including it -probably because they just don’t feel they can sleep. They are well aware, instead of being up half the night and feeling exhausted and unfocused during the day.

 Saying that you are so sleepy that you have to nap in your office during the day hopefully will sound the alarm to your doctor. Just saying that you’re tired or run down might leave you with the wrong diagnosis -or none at all.

*Try to write down all the feelings you have on a day when you feel your symptoms the most. That way it’s in writing, and you can be more specific when you see your doctor.

Some sleep disorders can be diagnosed during a routine exam and a conversation with a sleep specialist. But if you or your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea a further examination may be requested.

It use to be that you had to travel to an actual ‘lab’/hospital. Most of the time they are hours away, booked for months at a time, and a big inconenience. Some people may have a disability, or dependents, or a job that makes a night in a lab too difficult. Now, finally with our latest technology, cases like these have been answered with: The Home Sleep Test (HST).

There are many home test kits available on the market today. But, none of them record all of the full vital signs that a complete in-lab study would, for other sleep disorders -eye and limb movements that might be related with a neurological disorder, for example. The increasing evidence, however, shows they are highly effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. A home sleep test will collect this kind of information though to be symptoms of OSA:

  • Airflow
  • Breathing efforts
  • Blood oxygen
  • Snoring vibrations/density
  • Head and neck movements
  • Calculated cessations/stops in breathing

With the new acceptance of home testing growing in the sleep community: in 2007 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) revised their policy and now endorses the use of portable monitoring for a specific group of people. Now, many insurance plans are starting to cover home tests for eligible patients. Many providers of home sleep testing, have an on-site doctor or therapist who will help you with obtaining a home sleep test, if you have difficulties with your insurance plan (we do 😉 )

So…who’s eligible?

The following points are taken into consideration when determining eligibility:

  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age. Home sleep test haven’t been recommended for children or older adults.
  • You have no other major medical problens; such as pulmonary disease (ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease)
  • Patients suspected of having no co-morbid sleep disorder other than OSA.
  • To monitor response to non-CPAP treatments after the dianosis has already been made.

Other medical problems can affect your results, including lung disease, neuromuscular disease, and congestive heart failure, be sure to talk to your doctor to rule out any possible infracions that may effect your testing.

You also maybe eligible for a Home Sleep test if health or safety concerns prevent you from being able to leave home for a night. The Home Sleep test may be used to evaluate your response to some sleep apnea treatments, such a titration pressure, and weather you’re a nasal breather or a mouth breather.

A Home Sleep test can and will make things much more clear if you feel that your just not getting a good nights sleep, or if your partner complains about your snoring and even if you’ve ever nodded off while driving. Give yourself and your loved ones the peace and ease of knowing that you’ll be save and yourself a complete and whole night of sleep, waking feeling refreshed! 🙂


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