HEALTH & FITNESS

Can lack of sleep drive you mad?
How long could you manage without sleep? The current record-holder is Randy Gardner, who as a 17-year-old Californian high-school student back in 1964 managed a staggering 265 hours - or 11 days - without so much as a nap. “I wanted to prove that bad things didn’t happen if you went without sleep,” Gardner explained.

Hope for patients of keratoconus
Puberty is known to bring about various changes in the body, the most commonly known being hair growth, acne, change in voice, etc. What is not common knowledge is that changes can also occur in the eye condition in which the normally spherical cornea thins out and also begins to bulge into a cone-like shape.

Health Notes

n Chicken may harbour osteoarthritis cure
n Now, soya sausage to beat the bulge
n Protein involved in leukemia plays mixed role

 

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Can lack of sleep drive you mad?
Daniel and Jason Freeman

How long could you manage without sleep? The current record-holder is Randy Gardner, who as a 17-year-old Californian high-school student back in 1964 managed a staggering 265 hours - or 11 days - without so much as a nap. “I wanted to prove that bad things didn’t happen if you went without sleep,” Gardner explained.

In fact, by the time he finally broke the record, Gardner had endured crippling exhaustion, forgetfulness, dizziness, slurred speech and blurred vision. He’d been moody and irritable, and unable to concentrate on the simplest tasks. He’d even experienced hallucinations and delusions (on one occasion, for instance, imagining that he was the legendary San Diego Chargers’ running back Paul Lowe).

“We got halfway through the damn thing and I thought, ‘This is tough. I don’t want to do this any more,’ ” Gardner recalled in 2006. “But everybody was looking at me so I couldn’t quit.”

Of course, you don’t need to have made an attempt on Randy Gardner’s record to know that lack of sleep can have some pretty unwelcome consequences. Anyone who has ever had to suffer a sleepless night will know just how disruptive it can be. The following day we’re tired, irritable, a little miserable, and generally out of sorts. And the longer sleep problems go on, the more wretched we feel.

The consequences don’t end there. It’s long been known that people with psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, paranoia, bipolar disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) don’t sleep well. Until recently, it was assumed their sleep difficulties were a product of the psychological problem.

But research suggests that the process may also work in the opposite direction: persistent sleep problems may help cause and exacerbate a number of common mental illnesses.

The clinical definition of insomnia is taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep on several nights each week and over at least a month, which causes problems in daytime functioning. One recent Keele University study of more than 2,500 people in Staffordshire found that individuals with insomnia were nearly three times more likely to develop depression over the next 12 months and more than twice as likely to suffer from anxiety.

And research in the US has suggested that people with breathing-related sleeping disorders such as sleep apnoea (in which breathing stops for a few seconds) are at greater risk of developing depression - and the worse the sleep problem, the more likely it is that they’ll become depressed.

Disturbed sleep is a well-known early sign of the manic episodes that characterise bipolar disorder (what used to be termed “manic depression”). Now there’s evidence that these sleep problems aren’t simply a symptom of the illness; they can also trigger the manic episodes.

A similar picture emerges from research we carried out recently at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London into the links between insomnia and paranoia. When we assessed 300 members of the general public, we found that those suffering from insomnia were five times more likely to experience strong paranoid thoughts than those who generally slept well.

Part of the explanation for this startling statistic, we believe, is that insomnia is helping to cause paranoid thoughts, much as it can do for depression or anxiety.

The link between sleep problems and psychological problems isn’t confined to adults. A |number of studies indicate that children who don’t get enough sleep are prone to the sorts of behavioural problems that can look like the signs of ADHD.

Earlier this year Finnish researchers published the results of a study of 280 seven- to eight-year-olds. The children who slept fewer than 7.7 hours a night were more prone to hyperactivity, restlessness, impulsiveness and lack of concentration.

Exactly why lack of sleep can have such a profound effect on our psychological and emotional well-being is a question that scientists are just beginning to tackle.

But one key factor may be that when we don’t get enough sleep, the part of the brain behind our foreheads that controls our thoughts, behaviours and emotions (the prefrontal lobe) doesn’t function efficiently.

Our rational mind, the executive centre that keeps us on an even keel, is overwhelmed by our feelings, no matter how negative.

That said, just because you don’t sleep well — and on any given night one in three of us will have difficulties sleeping — it certainly doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to develop anxiety or depression or indeed any other psychological problem. In most cases, sleep problems are just one among several contributory factors.

Nevertheless, the message sent by this new research is that persistent sleep problems, once trivialised as merely a symptom by psychologists and psychiatrists, may actually play a key role in determining our mental health.

If you can sort out your sleeping, you will be reducing the risk of developing psychological and emotional problems.

If you are already battling these problems, better sleep can be a crucial - and non-pharmaceutical — weapon in your armoury. — The Independent

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Hope for patients of keratoconus
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

Puberty is known to bring about various changes in the body, the most commonly known being hair growth, acne, change in voice, etc. What is not common knowledge is that changes can also occur in the eye condition in which the normally spherical cornea thins out and also begins to bulge into a cone-like shape.

The symptoms of keratoconus (kerato = cornea, konos = cone), as it is called, usually first appear in the patient’s adolescent years and attain its most severe state in the 20s and 30s.

Although keratoconus does not cause blindness, it can cause significant distortion and blurring of vision, with multiple images, increased sensitivity to light and a host of other problems.

If it hits both eyes, the deterioration in vision can affect the patient’s ability to drive a car and read a normal print. Usually early diagnosis of kerotoconus is missed because it progresses slowly.

Keratoconus is a rare non-inflammatory eye condition usually affecting both eyes. Chances of having keratoconus vary between 1 in 3000 to 1 in 10000.

For an early and accurate diagnosis, one must consult a competent ophthalmologist, preferably a cornea specialist.

Moderate-to-severe cases of keratoconus may be picked up on a detailed slit lamp biomicrocopic examination.

The subclinical and mild cases may, however, escape detection unless a comprehensive corneal topography assessment is carried out.

The state of the art Pentacam topography system now enables the ophthalmologist to detect even subclinical cases of keratoconus.

In the early stages, vision can often be improved using glasses or contact lenses. However, as keratoconus progresses, patients may require specialised treatments which are available today.

Gas permeable contact lenses are used to replace the cornea’s irregular shape with a smooth, uniform refracting surface to improve vision. These lenses are usually used in the initial stages of keratoconus.

“Piggy-back” contact lenses increase the wearer comfort as the soft lens acts like a cushioning pad under the rigid gas permeable lens.

Intacs are advised when contact lenses or eyeglasses are no longer effective. Intacs or corneal inserts (FDA approved) are placed in the peripheral cornea and help reshape the cornea for clearer vision.

With a 10 minute Intralase-assisted Intacs procedure, visual improvement is instant and the implants are removable and exchangeable.

C3R has now emerged as a ray of hope for many patients suffering from keratoconus. C3R stands for 3 C’s & 1 R. It denotes Corneal Collagen Cross linkage with Riboflavin.

In this procedure, after the instillation of riboflavin eye drops, the cornea is exposed to UV rays. This leads to a significant increase in corneal collagen diameter along with increased cross-linking of the collagen fibres, thereby strengthening the cornea and preventing its progressive bulging.

C3R is the only modality known to arrest the progression of this disease and may avoid the need for a future corneal transplant in a majority of the patients.

Once the cornea is stabilised about three-six months after a C3R procedure, the refractive error can also be corrected by implantable contact lens (ICL). ICL are used to help the patients of keratoconus with large refractive errors.

Treatment modalities

C3R: C3R stands for 3Cs and 1 R. It denotes corneal collagen cross linkage with riboflavin. After the instillation of riboflavin eye-drops, the cornea is exposed to UV rays. This strengthens the cornea and prevents its progressive bulging.

C3R is the only modality known to arrest the progression of this disease and may avoid the need for a future corneal transplant in a majority of the patients.

Intacs: Tiny plastics inserts are placed just under the eye’s surface in the periphery of the cornea by creating grooves using Intralse. This helps reshape the cornea.

ICL: Once the cornea is stabilised, about three-six months after C3R procedure, the refractive error can also be corrected by implantable contact lens.

Contact lenses: Gas permeable lenses help in the initial stages of keratoconus. “Piggy-back” contact lenses are used to increase the comfort level of patients.

Corneal transplant: In the advanced stage, other therapies no longer provide acceptable vision. The last option available is corneal transplant.

With correct diagnosis and treatment of kerotoconus you can get your 20:20 vision back. It’s a miracle of modern medicine!

The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi.
Email: drmahipal@gmail.com.


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Health Notes
Chicken may harbour osteoarthritis cure

WASHINGTON: A new study led by Indian-origin scientist has shown that a natural chicken derivative can offer an effective cure for osteoarthritis (OA).

The natural treatment has been found more effective and longer-lasting than traditional chondroitin and glucosamine treatments.

Conventional medication includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, which can cause gastric injury.

The new study has shown that UC-II, a novel undenatured type II collagen derived from chicken sternum cartilage can decrease arthritis pain by 33 per cent compared to 14 percent in groups treated with conventional therapies. — ANI

Now, soya sausage to beat the bulge

LONDON: Researchers at the Rowett Institute, Aberdeen, have come up with a healthy alternative for dieters who can't get enough of fried sausage and bacon, and giant plates of steak -soya sausage. Besides being sumptuous, the revolutionary food item makes a person feel full.

Scientists have found that if people eat high-protein foods then they do not get as hungry. The exact reason is not known, but it is thought a protein triggers particular signals from the gut to the brain that it is full.

The weight lost on a high-protein diet is fat instead of muscle or water. Dr Alex Johnstone, from the Rowett's Metabolic Health Group, is conducting studies to see if vegetable-based proteins such as soya work as well as dairy and meat. — ANI

Protein involved in leukemia plays mixed role

WASHINGTON: A protein involved in the growth of some forms of leukemia has now been found to play a mixed role in breast cancer development, say researchers.

Experts from the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) say that this finding indicates that the function of the protein, known as Stat5a, may be different in developing breast cancer cells that are estrogen receptor-positive as compared to estrogen receptor-negative.

Presenting their findings at the annual meeting of Endocrine Society in Washington, DC, researchers revealed that when estrogen receptor levels were over-expressed, loss of Stat5a reduced development of a lobular type of preneoplasia.

However, when estrogen receptor levels were normal, loss of Stat5a not only had no effect on reducing preneoplasia, but also increased susceptibility to carcinogen-induced breast cancer. — ANI

 

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