An exhausted couple who is suffering from a lack of sleep.

How a Lack of Sleep Affects the Immune System

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An exhausted couple who is suffering from a lack of sleep.

How is a lack of sleep affecting your body’s ability to fight infection?

It’s important to take care of the immune system. After all, it’s function is to protect your body from infection and disease. If you have any unhealthy habits, you’re making the immune system’s job even harder. What people fail to realize is that a lack of sleep is one of those unhealthy habits. It causes the immune system to become weaker, inviting disease into your body. Scientists are now proving how a lack of sleep is making us sick.

What people fail to realize is that a lack of sleep is one of those unhealthy habits. It causes the immune system to become weaker, inviting disease into your body. Scientists are now proving how a lack of sleep is making us sick.

A Lack of Sleep and the Immune System

The study performed by the University of Washington has taken a unique approach. By testing 11 identical twins, they were able to find the answers they needed. Each twin had different sleep patterns and through blood samples, researchers were able to determine that the twin who slept less had a weaker immune system.

“What we show is that the immune system functions best when it gets enough sleep. Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health,” said lead author Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center.

There is a special reason why Dr. Watson and his team used several groups of identical twins to help them in their study. Genetics, combine with environmental factors, determine how long we are able to sleep for. The twins’ similar genetic structure help them form a better control group and see how a lack of sleep affects the body in similar subjects.

While the immune system usually responds when the body has not received enough sleep, chronic short-term sleep may be different. If short-term sleep becomes a frequent occurrence, the immune system may not respond at all. Hopefully, this study will show more people the importance of maintaining sleep health. Without enough sleep, you leave yourself vulnerable to viruses and illness.

A doctor examining a little boy's throat for infection, which many patients solve with tonsillectiomies.

Tonsillectomies: Are They as Effective as We Think?

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A doctor examining a little boy's throat for infection, which many patients solve with tonsillectomies.

Do tonsillectomies get the job done?

More common in children than adults, tonsillectomies are performed to resolve tonsillitis or strep throat. The procedure also helps with breathing problems like snoring and sleep apnea. However, it’s a costly, as it removes the tonsils. Patients often undergo a tonsillectomy after dealing with several bouts of tonsillitis or throat infections. However, are they as effective as we think?

Why Are Tonsillectomies Are Being Called Into Question?

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center conducted an in-depth systematic review of four papers on the subject regarding tonsillectomies. This study focused on how effective the procedure was towards helping children with sleep-disordered breathing and throat infections.

“It’s probably the most comprehensive study in tonsillectomy literature ever done,” said investigator David Francis, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of Otolaryngology. “We determined the lay of the land of what’s known and what’s not known about this extremely common procedure.”

After a thorough review of the illness rates in children who have had tonsillectomies versus those who waited for the infection to resolve itself, they found that the benefits of this surgery may not be long term. Schools experienced a reduction in absences due to throat infections during the first year after most kids underwent surgery, but that benefit did not last over time.

More studies found that the surgery was effective at treating sleep-disordered breathing, the risk was minimal and only a small amount of patients needed readmission overtime. However, what the researchers could not find is if these benefits were long-term. Most of the studies that do research into tonsillectomies do not follow patients after a long period of time.

There were too many questions left unanswered for the researchers to make a defined conclusion. Still, this procedure is the best course of action for children who suffer from tonsillitis frequently. See an otolaryngologist to learn more about the procedure and if it is right for you or your children.

Gestational diabetes mellitus equipment, including an insulin pen and glucose level blood test.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: The Link to Pregnancy and Insufficient Sleep

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Gestational diabetes mellitus equipment, including an insulin pen and glucose level blood test.

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a serious problem within the Asian population.

According to the CDC, “Research has found that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.” For years, scientists have worked tirelessly to find out what that link is. New research is done every year, and every they become closer to finding the answer. In a recent study, scientists in Singapore have discovered the association between a lack of sleep during pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) Among Asians

Unfortunately, Asians are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people with European ancestry. Even worse, 60% percent of the world’s diabetic population are Asians and more than half of them go undiagnosed.

Singapore is especially a problem area. The country has the second-highest proportion of diabetes and one of the highest rates of gestational diabetes mellitus among developed nations. For this reason, scientists decided to conduct a study on the disease in this country.

GDM in Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a common problem among women who are pregnant. It can lead to pre-term labor, obstructed labor, birth trauma, high blood pressure for mothers, and increased risk of mother and fetal deaths. This is due to GDM causing high and unhealthy blood glucose levels.

In an extensive study that involved 686 women, Associate Professor Joshua Gooley from Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) and Dr. Cai Shirong from the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, were able to find answers. The women all took sleep questionnaires and had their glucose levels measured.

What they discovered was that women who received less than six hours of sleep were more likely to have GDM than those who received the standard eight recommended by the CDC. This proves that getting the necessary sleep you need lowers your risk of developing GDM and eventually Type 2 Diabetes. Hopefully, scientists can develop better methods to prevent this and reduce the disease among the Asian population.

A young woman touching her ear (which is red) because she it dealing with severe tinnitus.

New Training Program May Help With Severe Tinnitus

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A young woman touching her ear (which is red) because she it dealing with severe tinnitus.

Severe tinnitus may have a solution.

If you often hear a sound that isn’t there, then you may have tinnitus. This condition affects millions of Americans. In fact, the CDC estimates over 50 million Americans are dealing with this troubling health condition. Of those 50 million, 2 million suffer from severe tinnitus. There is no cure, but new technology seems to be helping patients.

The Brain Fitness Program – Tinnitus (BRP-T)

Unfortunately, tinnitus comes with cognitive issues. This causes a decline in reaction times and the ability to pay attention. It can even interfere with a patient’s ability to process and remember certain situations. Researchers believe that the answer to this problem is to strengthen the brain. Through neuroplasticity, they hope to heal the mind by forming new neural connections.

One attempt at “working out” the brain is a training program called the Brain Fitness Program – Tinnitus (BRP-T). Through an online interface, the program uses 11 interactive exercises. It seeks to improve simple acoustic stimuli, continuous speech, and visual stimuli.

Fixing Severe Tinnitus

Through testing a group with severe tinnitus and a control group, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis were able to find out if the BRP-T actually worked. Randomly selected individuals from both groups used the program an hour every day, five days a week for two months.

As predicted, the tinnitus patients showed improvements. After thorough testing, their perception, memory, attention, and concentration showed better results than those who did not undergo the training.

Researchers say this about the results: “We believe that continued research into the role of cognitive training rehabilitation programs is supported by the findings of this study, and the role of neuroplasticity seems to hold a prominent place in the future treatments for tinnitus,” the researchers write. “On the basis of our broad recruitment and enrollment strategies, we believe the results of this study are applicable to most patients with tinnitus who seek medical attention.”

A close-up of a man holding a tissue on his nose and dealing with a sinus infection.

Home Remedies for a Sinus Infection

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A close-up of a man holding a tissue on his nose and dealing with a sinus infection.

Which home remedies can help you with a sinus infection?

Is it a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection? Sometimes it can be hard to tell. Situations, where you end up sick, can occur at any time. And sometimes you can’t get to a doctor right away. So, what do you do in the meantime? Well, until you can see your physician, we suggest using these home remedies to help you ease your symptoms.

Saline Sprays and Washes

Designed to wash out your sinus cavities and nose, saline sprays and washes are your first defense against sinusitis. They provide quick relief and eliminate the nasty bacteria and other materials that cause infection. And if you are experiencing dryness, they are especially useful. They provide moisture within the nasal passageways, which prevents headaches, bleeding, and inflammation.

Stay Hydrated

You should always stay hydrated. It is especially important when you are dealing with a sickness. Like we said before, the sinuses must remain moist. A lot of water or healthy fluids will keep your body adequately hydrated and your sinus healthy.

Keeping the Air Moist

If you have noticed by now, these home remedies are all following a theme. Moisture in the sinuses means relief from pain and congestion. Another way to keep the sinus moist is to either take a steam shower or buy a humidifier. Breathing in the moist air will help you breathe easy and reduce the swelling of the sinuses.

Clean Your Home

Your symptoms can also be a result of allergies. Allergy symptoms usually don’t go away until the all the allergens in your home are gone. There are a few steps you can take to remedy this. For example, having someone clean your home for you will avoid upsetting your allergy symptoms. You can also use dust covers and run the air conditioner to prevent allergens from affecting you.

Confirm if You Have a Sinus Infection

While these home remedies will provide temporary relief, your condition can persist. It is important to know exactly what you’re dealing with. An otolaryngologist can confirm if you do indeed have a common cold or a sinus infection. Reach out to one for help.

A close-cropped image of a doctor examining the ear of a young girl with a otoscope, checking for an ear infection.

What You Need to Know About Your Child’s Ear Infection

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A close-cropped image of a doctor examining the ear of a young girl with a otoscope, checking for an ear infection.

Does your child have an ear infection?

“My Ear Hurts” is a statement that parents often dread. Immediately, you think ear infection. However, it is important that you don’t jump to conclusions. Before you start panicking, here are a few facts about ear infections that you should know to not only help your child but know when to seek help from a doctor or otolaryngologist.

Causes

Most illnesses are caused by either bacterium of viruses. The eustachian tubes is a part of the body that drains fluids from the middle ear. When it is swollen due to infection, it doesn’t function properly. Fluid is instead pulled into the middle ear, causing bacteria to grow.

Common Symptoms of an Ear Infection

Symptoms are your number one indicator of an ear infection. So, it’s crucial that you know what to look for. If you are worried, then check to see if your child has any of the following:

  • The common cold.
  • Irritation during the day or night.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Trouble laying down straight.
  • Blood or pus in the ear.
  • Ear pain.

When to Call Your Doctor

These symptoms are serious. Blood or pus coming out of the ear probably means a ruptured ear drum. The ear drums swell and can burst, especially if your child messes with it. Now, this can heal, but a professional can tell you what to do so it heals properly.

If the pain is too great or your child cannot hear, then visit your doctor or an otolaryngologist. You shouldn’t wait for their temperature to go down. Ear infection can also be the cause of a fever and stiff neck. Home treatment only works so much, and very little if your child’s condition is severe.

Hopefully, this helps you find the signs of an ear infection. Next week, find out how to prevent an ear infection from occurring.

A peaceful man sleeping in bed at home in the bedroom, receiving sleep benefits.

Sleep Benefits: Recovering From Traumatic Experiences

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A peaceful man sleeping in bed at home in the bedroom, receiving sleep benefits.

Are sleep benefits helping you recover from stress and trauma?

The wonders of sleep are amazing. More and more studies are proving just how necessary it is to the body’s recovery. We have talked before about what happens when you don’t sleep. Now, it’s time to focus on one of the many sleep benefits that exist. Researchers have found that sleep helps people deal with traumatic experiences. Find out how this works and what scientists have learned.

Processing Stress and Trauma

It is an unfortunate reality that people go through traumatic experiences. Whether it’s soldiers in war or a victim of a crime, something drastic can happen to anyone. There are many methods to dealing with stress disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but is sleeping one of them?

This is the very question on the minds of the scientists at the University of Zurich. They conducted a study, which tested two groups of people. Both groups watched a distressing film. One group was allowed to sleep that very night, while the other group remained awake.

Here’s what they found: “Our results reveal that people who slept after the film had fewer and less distressing recurring emotional memories than those who were awake,” says Birgit Kleim, the first author from the University of Zurich.

This positive impact on stressful events is because sleep helps us understand and process these memories. This makes our emotions to these events less relevant, less impactful. At least, this is the theory that the researchers have.

Using These Sleep Benefits for Recovery

Is sleep the ultimate answer to recovering from trauma and PTSD? We don’t know. For now, all signs say that sleeping helps. However, this study is limited. It doesn’t test patients with actual traumatic experiences, it simulates them.

We do know that no matter what, sleep is necessary. According to Kleim, “Our approach offers an important non-invasive alternative to the current attempts to erase traumatic memories or treat them with medication.” If more research is done, this can lead to safer methods of dealing with stress.

A hospital doctor taking notes as paramedics arrive with patient with a heart condition.

How Sleep Deprivation Puts Your Heart at Risk

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A hospital doctor taking notes as paramedics arrive with patient with a heart condition.

Both doctors and paramedics run the risk of heart disease as they work 24-hour shifts.

Suppose you put in an all-nighter at work. From your perspective, sacrificing a couple of hours of sleep is no big deal. You might feel a little sluggish in the morning, but it’s nothing that a cup of coffee can’t fix, right? Unfortunately, that’s where you are wrong. Sleep deprivation does more than just make you tired. Receiving too little sleep can have a negative long-term effect on the body, especially the heart.

The Toll of Working Long Hours

It’s no secret that people in the United States often work too much, but some jobs require that they do so. The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) noticed that a lot of high-stress jobs were taking a toll on workers. These jobs include fire and emergency medical services, as well as medical residencies and more. Often, they have to go above and beyond to fulfill their services, and that requires working up to 24-hour shifts. Doing work like this frequently has some an impact on how the body functions and the RSNA wanted to find out exactly how.

Sleep and the Heart

In a study that included 20 radiologists (19 men and one woman), researcher tested their cardiac function before and after a 24-hour shift. They were able to do this by using a cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging with strain analysis. As predicted, strain, blood pressure, and heart rate increased significantly.

Study author Daniel Kuetting, M.D., from the department of diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at the University of Bonn in Bonn, Germany had this to say: “For the first time, we have shown that short-term sleep deprivation in the context of 24-hour shifts can lead to a significant increase in cardiac contractility, blood pressure, and heart rate.”

While this study needs a larger test base, it shows that further research is warranted. It is also a warning for workers in high-stress positions. The toll sleep deprivation takes on your heart can lead to further complication and if you want to remain healthy for a long time, it may be time to reconsider sleeping less than 3 hours a night.

An image of a young girl sneezing due to a flower and childhood allergies.

Childhood Allergies: Protecting Kids in School

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An image of a young girl sneezing due to a flower and childhood allergies.

Are childhood allergies affecting your kids at school?

Dealing with allergies can be difficult, especially during childhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10% of children (under the age of 18) have experienced respiratory allergies. It is difficult for kids, who are dealing with childhood allergies, to avoid anything that will trigger their symptoms. However, it is more important for parents to make sure they that their children are safe in places like school.

Are Childhood Allergies Safe at School?

Airborne allergens come in many forms, from pollen to dust mites. However, if you want your children to remain safe, it is important to know where they accumulate. This means making sure that schools are allergen-free. The problem is that some educational institutions contain airborne allergens. These allergens trigger the symptoms of children, putting them at risk.

Wanda Phipatanakul of Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted a recent study. She and other researchers sought to find out if airborne allergen affected kids in school. By examining 37 inner-city schools, they were able to detect if there were any common indoor allergens. Surprisingly, there are not many.

Researchers found that these schools contained a high level of mouse allergens. These were the biggest cause of severe asthma symptoms. Researchers also found a very low amount of other allergy triggers. This includes dust mites, cockroaches, and rats.

Schools seem to keep themselves clean. However, given the location of the study, it is understandable why mice are a problem. Inner-cities have high populations of mice. Their feces are a known allergy trigger. If they are not kept out of the schools, it can be bad for many kids. Parents expect their children to learn in a safe environment, free from any possible danger.

The authors had this to say about their findings: “Exposure Reduction strategies in the school may effectively and efficiently benefit all children with asthma. Future school-based environmental intervention studies may be warranted.”

An exhausted driver, who is missing sleep, yawning and driving a car.

Missing Sleep Causes Trouble on the Road?

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An exhausted driver, who is missing sleep, yawning and driving a car.

Are you 100% careful on the road when missing sleep?

Driving is a rite of passage. And for many, it is one of the signifiers of adulthood. However, people hold a sort of responsibility when it comes to being on the road. It is to be careful. We’ve all heard the phrase “Drive Responsibly” at one point or another. However, is it possible to do so when you are missing sleep? How does losing 1 to 2 hours of bed rest affect our ability to drive?

The Impact of Missing Sleep

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours they are supposed to receive daily. The American Automobile Association (AAA) digs even deeper into the issue and discovered two facts. The first is that drivers who miss 1 to 2 hours of sleep double their crash risk, while the second states that drivers who miss more than 2-3 hours of sleep quadruple their risk.

This is telling information. A lack of sleep can be compared to drinking alcohol. And considering that both missing sleep and being under the influence of alcohol impairs your ability to function, they are equally dangerous.

Even the AAA acknowledges that the crash risk is associated with a lack of sleep is very similar to being over the legal limit for alcohol. According to Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research for AAA states “Managing a healthy work-life balance can be difficult and far too often we sacrifice our sleep as a result. Failing to maintain a healthy sleep schedule could mean putting yourself or others on the road at risk.”

Driving without sleep is a great risk. People often experience trouble keeping their eyes open, losing memories, fatigue, and more. Pushing yourself without proper care is too dangerous. Healthy sleep can keep roads safe, as well as the people driving on them.

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