Orexin, a protein developed in the brain by the hypothalamus, is responsible for helping to wake the brain from a sleep state. It stimulates wakefulness, acting like a switch to wake the sleeping brain up. Researchers looking at this protein have learned that its presence in mice is a contributing factor to the development of brain plaques, mostly consisting of amyloid beta, which have been linked to memory loss, disorientation, personality changes, and dementia, all symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Brain plaques are always present before the onset of these conditions, and they increase in accumulation on the brain throughout their duration. Because of these known correlations, researchers are now looking at brain plaques, and at the orexin protein, for possible methods of preventing Alzheimer’s. By preventing the buildup of these plaques, researchers hope to slow, and possibly avoid, the onset of Alzheimer’s and other brain-related diseases.
Researchers out of Washington University School of Medicine looked at lab rats that were genetically manipulated to develop brain plaques more rapidly than normal. These rats developed symptoms of memory loss and dementia. They were then bred with rats that had a deficiency in the orexin protein. The result was as the researchers had hoped: the rats with less orexin slept an average of an entire hour more – over a 12 hour cycle – than rats with normal levels of the protein. The other result that researchers were hoping for also occurred; the rats that slept more (with deficient levels of the orexin protein) developed brain plaques at half the rate of those who had more orexin protein and slept less each day. Now that researchers are beginning to understand the link between sleep disorders and the development of Alzheimer’s, they are hopeful that the orexin protein could be a major factor in future Alzheimer’s prevention. One possible setback they learned from the study, though, is that decreasing the levels of orexin without changing the amount of sleep the rats got each night did not change the rate of brain plaque development. This means that in order for the elimination of the orexin protein to make any difference in slowing or stopping the onset of Alzheimer’s, there has to be a change in sleep patterns as well, which could be difficult to control on a large scale. Regardless, researchers are hopeful that this new understanding will help us get closer to eliminating Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
Better Airflow Airplane Technology Leads to Better Breathing
Advancement in avionics is leading to advancements in healthcare as well. Patients that suffer from pulmonary problems may be able to breathe easier thanks to developments in airplane design. Better airflow airplane technology is helping people with respiratory conditions to breathe easier.
There is a science that studies how algorithms can affect the flow of air or liquid. These computer codes help airflow for airplanes. Since it has been successful, many consider using these algorithms to be more cost-effective than using models. Recently, researchers have started applying this science, also known as computational fluid dynamics (CFD), to study the flow of air in the body, especially as it relates to problems involving the respiratory system. Conditions like asthma and sleep apnea may find new treatments thanks to these algorithms.
The respiratory system is a channel made up of different parts, some firm and others not, that distribute oxygen throughout the body. Many disorders related to disruption of oxygen circulation are caused by the more delicate structures being deformed or even collapsing. Disorders that result can range from annoying to life-threatening.
Researchers are now using the airplane science of CFD and its computer codes to examine medical data taken from people that have respiratory conditions. With the help of MRI, these algorithms allow physicians to better assess problems and recommend relevant treatments to patients. This practice has led to an increased success rate of surgery as well as a decrease in the number of unneeded surgeries being performed.
In the past, doctors have only been relying on clinical diagnosis and medical imaging machines to view the respiratory landscape. Since every case is different and there might be normal variants of a person’s airway, success rates of treatment and surgery were somewhat limited. With airflow airplane technology algorithm, or CFD, physicians can better tailor their treatments to the needs of each patient.
CPAP Saves Lives of Patients with OSA and COPD
New research is showing that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) could help people who suffer from both obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Both types of patients exhibited benefits of CPAP therapy by expressing relieved symptoms, with decreased risk of death retrospectively.
In reviewing a study that was conducted over a three-year period, and included over 200 patients, it showed OSA and COPD sufferers who used CPAP every night have less than 8 percent risk of dying compared to those who don’t use the treatment. Those who used CPAP occasionally or seldomly still had a slightly higher survival rate than those who never used CPAP therapy. In this case, some use is better than no use at all. Even the researchers were surprised at the fact that any time logged using the treatment at night had a positive result.
The main cause of COPD, both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, in people is cigarette smoking. COPD cause an obstruction of airflow and restricts breathing. In the United States, chronic respiratory diseases, particularly COPD, is the third highest cause of death. In addition, OSA is relatively common. It affects as much as 7 percent of males and 5 percent of women. Obstructive sleep apnea consists of periods of time during sleep when all or part of the upper air path is blocked, even though the body continues to try to breathe.
CPAP is proving to be the best treatment option for those that suffer from OSA. It gives an ongoing flow of air through the airway by means of a mask. This airflow keeps that channel open that would otherwise be blocked. COPD sufferers, along with medications, receive benefits of CPAP therapy as much-needed oxygen is delivered throughout the body and keeps constricted airways open.
Even if CPAP users only gain a slight advantage in survival rate, it’s still worth it if it means more years to a life.
What’s acid reflux? It’s the backflow of anything from the stomach into the esophagus. Whether it’s from stomach acid or food, acid reflux can be painful in esophagus or lead to complications when it reaches the throat or even the voice box.
Depending on the underlying condition, a person may not even need to eat in order to experience reflux. They don’t need to be in any particular position, and it can happen at any time.
Laryngopharyngeal reflux is a particular kind of acid reflux that may often go unnoticed. This is because it lasts such a brief amount of time that the sufferer may not experience noticeable heartburn as a result. The problem is that the reflux is still doing damage to the throat and larynx.
If the reflux reaches all the way to the back of the throat or the voice box, serious complications can occur. So how can you tell if you have this harmful condition? If the reflux reaches the voice box, chronic hoarseness can become a problem. You may cough or have to clear your throat regularly, and some experience problems swallowing.
In some cases, a person may experience heartburn so don’t discount laryngopharyngeal reflux just because it doesn’t usually result in indigestion. You should consult an ear, nose, and throat specialist if you are experiencing these symptoms. Smoking can increase the likelihood of this condition, so if you experience these symptoms and are a smoker, there is an even greater urgency to both seek a medical opinion and to also kick the smoking habit.
If your doctor suspects this condition, he may check your voice box for inflammation as a diagnosis. Your general practitioner can recommend an ear, nose, and throat specialist to assist with treatment.
If you are experiencing increasing difficulty in swallowing, it could be the symptom of a more serious condition. Dysphagia is the technical term for chronic swallowing problems. It can take a person who once loved food, and cause them to dread meal time. If you are experiencing dysphagia, you need to seek treatment. Sometimes even speech therapy is a part of the treatment for this affliction.
One type of dysphagia involves the esophagus. This is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. When a person suffers from this type of dysphagia, they may become malnourished since eating becomes difficult. The sufferer may lose weight and seem to have less interest in food than they did before. When a person with esophageal dysphagia tries to swallow, it can cause extreme discomfort in the chest. It may result in a cough that wakes the person up from sleep. It can also result in a person not being able to keep food down.
The other type of dysphagia is known as oropharyngeal dysphagia. While this type of swallowing disorder has many of the same symptoms, it will not cause pain in the chest since the problem is usually more in the mouth or upper throat area. Other symptoms may include drooling, food getting caught in throat frequently, frequent clearing of the throat and an excessive amount of time being spent chewing. This is often an effort on the part of the sufferer to make the food as easy to swallow as possible so as to prevent choking.
There are many different conditions that can cause dysphagia, and treatment will often depend on the underlying cause. Swallowing problems can be caused by muscle disorders, a tumor, dementia, a stroke, acid reflux, an infection, cancer or several other conditions. Surgery and muscle therapy are often needed to counteract many of these different causes for dysphagia.