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Wed, 2nd November 2016
 

Snoring kids - it may drive you crazy. Also, they probably wont go to sleep easily at night, toss and turn, wake up cranky, and be irritable, inattentive and lack normal spark next day. You may even think your child has ADHD. Do not scream and yell, for that will only exacerbate the situation. Chances are high your child has OSA - short for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

Once considered the domain of the middle aged to older adult, usually male with a beer belly who sleeps on his back with jaw sagging and mouth breathing, the position has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. Now it can be anyone, any age, any build. Even skinny kids are candidates. Cause is partial obstruction to normal air flow to the lungs at night when lying down. After the snore, there is often a long pause, then suddenly a bit of a gulp as respiration recommences. During the silent period, no air (and oxygen) is being pumped to the lungs. Brain cells need oxygen and lots of it continuously. 100 per cent is best, but it may drop to as low as 80.

NOT ENOUGH OXYGEN

This can occur dozens and often hundreds of times during the night. So the person is not receiving adequate sleep to start with and oxygen deprivation as a follow up. No wonder the kid is cranky, uncooperative, tired and unable to concentrate properly next day. "It can aggravate ADHD, cause night terrors, simulate asthma, cause chronic cough and other abnormalities", Professor Hugh Allen, a Sydney sleep apnoea specialist told me this week. First essential is make sure enough air can get to the lungs.

A simple overnight test at a sleep disorders laboratory (now can be done at home) traces breathing patterns during the night. Large adenoids (tissue behind the nasal passages), and very big tonsils are one of the commonest causes. Their removal is now becoming mainstream with these kids, specially those with a narrow oro-pharynx - the space at the back of the oral cavity. Its recognition is relatively recent, with many GPs unaware that it exists. If your child is in this category, referral to a respiratory physician or sleep disorders clinic is strongly advised. Breathing assistance with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device (CPAP) can make an enormous improvement. Your kid becomes normal!

 
SLEEP

Q: 

Is there a nice natural remedy to help sleep, as most prescribed drugs appear to have possible horrible side effects or leave you weary next day.

A: 

Tryptophan, a natural "amino acid" (protein) in milk is well known. For decades doctors advised a hot cup of "malted milk" at bedtime. Valerian (smells awful) has been used for centuries. So has passionflower and hops (before it's recycled as alcohol!). Some use a hops pillow. Most are available at health food shops. They are harmless. Valerian can give a bit of a hangover.

 
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CANCER CURE

Q: 

I heard on radio this afternoon an overseas doctor can cure cancer by using sodium bicarbonate. Is this true?

A: 

Every week we read amazing claims of "cancer cures", usually from overseas. If the "cancer" was cured this simple way, of course it was not a cancer in the first place. Don't be sucked into making special trips, expending funds or raising hopes on stuff from overseas or our own fair shores. The mainstream medical journals publish up to date results of controlled trials of drugs, new and old, for cancer and most other illnesses. Nevertheless, it is understandable that anyone with cancer will grasp for any last hope.

 
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BLOOD THINNERS

Q: 

An older friend who had been on blood thinning tablets for some time slipped when walking, fell and struck her head on the ground. She died a couple of hours later. They said it was caused by a hemorrhage in the brain.

A: 

Thousands regularly take blood thinners, specially simple aspirin often with Iscover. This is aimed at preventing clots to the brain and heart which could cause heart attack or stroke. However, it does not gear the body for an unexpected sharp blow, which may cause a traumatic hemorrhage from broken vessels, often massive, if there is a sudden external injury. Many on these agents notice bruises if they happen to bump or scratch the limbs, or back of the hand.

 
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PAIN KILLERS

Q: 

Which is the best simple pain killer for general use?

A: 

Today the standard advice is paracetamol. It is safe, provided daily dose does not exceed 4G, which equals 2 x 500 mg say after meals and at bedtime. Higher doses may cause liver damage a few weeks later which is difficult to reverse. A long acting 650 mg tablet is also suitable with a once or twice a day dose. Take only if there is a distinct need. Aspirin, used for over 100 years is out of favour for pain and fever, especially in kids, when it may be dangerous. The NSAIDS, used for fifty years, are also not in favour, even though heavily promoted. They are blamed for gastric bleeding and adverse heart events. Always take minimum amounts.

 
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CATARACT

Q: 

How can a person avoid developing cataract?

A: 

You cannot. It is part of the ageing process, and will ultimately affect everybody if they live long enough. Some claim sunlight plays a part. We know suns rays damage the skin, and avoiding eye contact is also essential. Wearing dark glasses when outdoors on bright days may help a little, but it is more for comfort. Ideally, use cancer council approved ones, which usually have protective side wings. IOL cataract surgery today is the most common eye surgery on a day basis.

 
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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.

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