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New Virus Is Not Linked To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Suggests UK Research

New UK research, published recently in PLoS ONE, has not reproduced previous findings that suggested Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may be linked to a recently discovered virus. The authors of the study, from Imperial College London and King's College London, say this means that anti-retroviral drugs may not be an effective treatment for people with the illness. An estimated three in 1000 people have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), experiencing severe physical and mental fatigue that is not alleviated by rest, together with other symptoms such as muscle pain, headache, joint pain and depression. Diagnosing CFS is difficult, as symptoms vary and there is no standard test.

Zebrafish Studies Reveal Pathways Affecting Sleep And Wakefulness That Are Likely Shared With Humans

A robust new technique for screening drugs' effects on zebrafish behavior is pointing Harvard University scientists toward unexpected compounds and pathways that may govern sleep and wakefulness in humans. Among their more intriguing findings, described this week in the journal Science : Various anti-inflammatory agents in the immune system, long known to induce sleep during infection, may also shape normal sleep/wake cycles. The new research identifies several compounds with surprising effects on sleep and wakefulness in zebrafish. But it also suggests that despite the evolutionary gap between them, zebrafish and mammals may be strikingly similar in the neurochemistry underlying their rest/wake cycles, meaning these same compounds may prove effective in people.

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Secondhand Smoke Linked To Sleep Problems In Children

Both adults and adolescents who smoke have reported difficulties sleeping, and young children exposed to tobacco smoke have poorer sleep quality. Recent research has found that children with asthma have more parent-reported sleep issues when exposed to tobacco smoke. The study, "Associations Between Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Sleep Patterns in Children, " in the February issue of Pediatrics (appearing online Jan. 18), examined 219 children enrolled in an asthma intervention trial who were regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. Researchers found that exposure to secondhand smoke can be associated with sleep problems among children with asthma, including difficulties falling asleep, more sleep-disordered breathing and increased daytime sleepiness.

Chronic Sleep Loss Not Easy To Recoup, Impairs Performance

Researchers in the US found that chronic sleep loss is not easy to recoup and severely impairs performance later in the day, particularly late at night when performance is naturally low. The study, which examines how sleep lost in the short term (last night) and the long term (over several weeks) combine with the body's natural circadian rhythm in our 24-hour internal clock, appears to dispel the idea that one can quickly recover from chronic sleep loss by just sleeping really well for a couple of days. The researchers said the findings suggest people with occupations that potentially affect health and safety in a critical way, like surgeons, lorry drivers and heavy machine operators, should make sure they don't accumulate sleep loss or they may find their performance is so reduced it becomes dangerous.

Earlier Bedtimes May Help Protect Adolescents Against Depression And Suicidal Thoughts

A study in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Sleep found that adolescents with bedtimes that were set earlier by parents were significantly less likely to suffer from depression and to think about committing suicide, suggesting that earlier bedtimes could have a protective effect by lengthening sleep duration and increasing the likelihood of getting enough sleep. Results show that adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression (odds ratio = 1.24) and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal ideation (OR=1.20) than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier. This association was appreciably attenuated by self-reported sleep duration and the perception of getting enough sleep.

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Restless Leg Syndrome Linked With Erectile Dysfunction In Older Men

A study in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Sleep shows that erectile dysfunction was more common in older men with restless leg syndrome (RLS) than in those without RLS, and the magnitude of this association increased with a higher frequency of RLS symptoms. Results show that erectile dysfunction was 16 percent more likely in men with RLS symptoms that occur five to 14 times per month (odds ratio of 1.16) and 78 percent more likely in men whose RLS symptoms occur 15 or more times a month (OR=1.78). The associations were independent of age, body mass index, use of antidepressants, anxiety and other possible risk factors for RLS. Fifty-three percent of RLS patients and 40 percent of participants without RLS reported having erectile dysfunction, which was defined as a poor or very poor ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse.

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