Coping With Restless Legs Syndrome: What Can Be Done

adc-restless-leg

You may think you’re managing to cope with your Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). You may even be getting treatment or taking medication for it. But the truth is, if you’re dealing with RLS  symptoms over and over, you’re stuck in a coping routine that’s affecting your life and changing your behavior.

RLS Isn’t Just About Your Legs

Studies have shown that RLS is actually a neurological condition that causes those unusual sensations in your legs. People with RLS describe the urge to move their legs in many different ways. Two common descriptions are a tingly-tightening sensation in the legs or a creepy-crawly feeling under the skin.

If you’ve ever experienced these symptoms, you know how frustrating RLS can be. Just when you’re about to relax, you feel uncomfortable sensations that give you the urge to move your legs. The symptoms can appear any time but most often occur in the evening or at night when you’re trying to rest. If you recognize these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor:

  • An urge to move the legs, usually accompanied or caused by uncomfortable and unpleasant leg sensations
  • Symptoms begin or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity such as lying or sitting
  • Symptoms are partially or totally relieved by movement, such as walking or stretching, at least as long as the activity continues.
  • Symptoms are worse or occur only in the evening or at night

Talk To Us

Only your doctor can diagnose RLS, so if you are experiencing the symptoms discussed above, we can help you find out for sure. It’s important for your doctor to know as much as possible when it comes to making a diagnosis, so be sure to:

  • Discuss the symptoms you’re having
  • Tell your doctor about your medical history, and if anyone in your family has RLS
  • Tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter and prescription, as well as any herbal or vitamin supplements.

Treatment Options

There are two types of RLS: primary RLS, a chronic condition that can be hereditary, and secondary RLS, which is caused by another condition (such as pregnancy or iron-deficiency) and may resolve once the underlying condition no longer exists. Only your doctor can diagnose the type of RLS you may have and provide appropriate treatment options.

Now that you know that RLS is a neurological condition, you should also know that there are treatment options that can help, including medications and non-medication options. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment. 

Shift Work and Problem Sleepiness

ADC shift work and problem sleepiness

Some information provided by The National Sleep Foundation.

About 20 million Americans (20 to 25 percent of workers) perform shift work. Most shift workers get less sleep over 24 hours than day workers. Sleep loss is greatest for night shift workers, those who work early morning shifts, and female shift workers with children at home. About 60 to 70 percent of shift workers have difficulty sleeping and/or problem sleepiness.

Sleep-Wake System

The human sleep-wake system is designed to prepare the body and mind for sleep at night and wakefulness during the day. These natural rhythms make it difficult to sleep during daylight hours and to stay awake during the night hours, even in people who are well rested. It is possible that the human body never completely adjusts to nighttime activity and daytime sleep, even in those who work permanent night shifts.

In addition to the sleep-wake system, environmental factors can influence sleepiness in shift workers. Because our society is strongly day-oriented, shift worker who try to sleep during the day are often interrupted by noise, light, telephones, family members and other distractions. In contrast, the nighttime sleep of day workers is largely protected by social customs that keep noises and interruptions to a minimum.

Problem sleepiness in shift workers may result in:

  • Increased risk for automobile crashes, especially while driving home after the night shift
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Decreased productivity (night work performance may be slower and less accurate than day performance
  • Increased risk of accidents and injuries at work

What Can Help? 

Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activities and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, more sleep may be needed. A good approach is to gradually move to an earlier bedtime. For example, if an extra hour of sleep is needed, try going to be 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights and then keep the last bedtime. This method will increase the amount of time in bed without causing a sudden change in schedule. However, if work or family schedules do not permit the earlier bedtime, a 30 to 60 minute daily nap may help.

For some shift workers, napping is essential. It can be extremely effective at eliminating fatigue-related accidents and injuries and reducing workers compensation costs. Although most employers do not allow napping in the workplace, a ban on napping may soon prove to be a legal liability. Thus, efforts to make workplace policies nap-friendly may soon gain popularity as the issue increases in global significance.

Here are some tips for sleeping during the day:

  • Wear dark glasses to block out the sunlight on your way home.
  • Keep to the same bedtime and wake time schedule, even on weekends.
  • Eliminate noise and light from your sleep environment (use eye masks and ear plugs).
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods close to bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol; although it may seem to improve sleep initially, tolerance develops quickly and it will soon disturb sleep.

If you think you are getting enough sleep, but still feel sleepy during the day, check with ADC to be sure your sleepiness is not due to a sleep disorder. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment. 

Problem Sleepiness And Adolescents

ADC - Adolescents and problem sleepiness

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs. Many U.S. high school and college have signs of problem sleepiness such as:

  • Difficulty getting up for school
  • Falling asleep at school
  • Struggling to stay awake while doing homework

The need for sleep may be 9 hours or more per night as a person goes through adolescence. At the same time, many teens begin to show preference for a later bed time, which may be due to a biological change. Teens tend to stay up later but have to get up early for school, resulting in their getting much less sleep than they need.

Many factors contribute to problem sleepiness in teens and young adults,but the main causes are not getting enough sleep and irregular sleep schedules. Some of the factors that influence adolescent sleep include:

  • Social activities with peers that lead to a later bedtime
  • Homework to be done in the evenings
  • Early wake-up times due to early school start times
  • Parents being less involved in setting and enforcing bedtimes
  • Employment, sports or other extracurricular activities that decrease the time available for sleep

Teens and young adults who do not get enough sleep are at risk for problems such as:

  • Automobile crashes
  • Poor performance in school and poor grades
  • Depressed moods
  • Problems with peers and adult relationships

Many adolescents have part-time jobs in addition to their classes and other activities. High school students who work more than 20 hours per week have more than 20 hours per week have more problem sleepiness and may use more caffeine nicotine and alcohol than those who work less than 20 hours per week or not at all.

Sleep – There is no substitute! 

The amount of sleep needed each night varies among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activities and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, more sleep may be needed. If you think you are getting enough sleep, but still feel sleepy during the day, check with your doctor to be sure your sleepiness is not due to a sleep disorder. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Essential Information: Midlife Hormone Management Therapy

ADCPA - hormone therapy

Some information provided by www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Mid-Life hormone management therapy is available to help women who are dealing with the not-so-fun side effects of menopause. As women get older, their bodies start to produce less estrogen. Most women recognize this process as menopause, and have experienced first hand or heard about the series of symptoms that comes along with this unavoidable milestone. Some side effects of menopause could alter your quality of life.

Side Effects Of Menopause

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Increased anxiety or irritability
  • The need to urinate more often
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Vaginal changes

These side effects are not enjoyable for anyone. Fortunately, there are ways to replace the hormones that a woman is lacking. This is called hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The therapy supplies the estrogen (and a progesterone type hormone, called a progestin, to reduce the risk of uterine cancer from estrogen alone for women who have not had a hysterectomy).

Women can have the option of hormone replacement therapy for as long as they receive the associated benefits and are aware of the risks for their personal circumstances. They can try to go without hormone replacement therapy every few years, but menopausal symptoms in some women can last for many years.

Who Should Consider Midlife hormonal treatment?

Although there are some health risks, systemic estrogen is still the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. The good news is that benefits of hormone therapy may outweigh the risks if you’re healthy and are experiencing symptoms of menopause.

With the onset of menopause, the amount of natural estrogen and progesterone the ovaries produce drops distinctly. As a result, your body can start to experience symptoms such as: as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, mood changes, and sleep problems.

Additionally, it can also boost the risk of osteoporosis. By replenishing the body’s estrogen supply, hormone therapy can help relieve menopause symptoms and guard against osteoporosis.

Who Should Not Consider Hormone Therapy? 

Women with breast cancer,  heart disease, liver disease, or a history of blood clots or  women who are not experiencing menopausal symptoms, are not candidates for hormone replacement therapy.

Finally…

To determine if hormone therapy is a good treatment option for you, contact us to set up an appointment or talk about your individual symptoms and health risks. Be sure to keep the doctors updated on your menopausal years.

The Problem With Problem Sleepiness

ADC - problem sleepiness

Everyone feels sleepy at times. However, when sleepiness interferes with daily routines and activities or reduces the ability to function, it is called “problem sleepiness.” A person can be sleepy without realizing it. For example, a person may not feel sleepy during activities such as talking and listening to music at a party, but the same person can fall asleep while driving home afterward. You may have problem sleepiness if you:

  • Consistenlty do not get enough sleep or get poor quality sleep
  • Fall asleep while driving
  • Struggle to stay awake when inactive such as when watching televison or reading
  • Have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school or home.
  • Have performance problems at work or school
  • Are often told by others that you are sleepy
  • Have difficulty remembering
  • Have slowed responses
  • Have difficulty controlling your emotions
  • Must take naps on most days

What Causes Problem Sleepiness?

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs.

Sleep-Wake Cycle

Each day there are two periods when the body experiences a natural tendency toward sleepiness: during the late night hours (generally between midnight and 7 a.m.) and gain during the midafternoon (generally between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.). If people are awake during these times, they ahve a higher risk of falling asleep unintentionally, especially if they havent been getting enough sleep.

Inadequate Sleep

The amount of sleep needed each night varis among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Research has shown that when healthy adults are allowed to sleep unrestricted, the average time slept is 8 to 8.5 hours. Some people need more than that to avoid problem sleepiness; others need less.

If a person does not get enough sleep, even on one night, a “sleep debt” begins to build and increases until enough sleep is obtained. Problem sleepiness occurs as the debt accumulates. Many people do not get enough sleep during the work week and then sleep longer on the weekends or days off to reduce their sleep debt. If too much sleep has been lost, sleeping in on the weekend may not completely reverse the effects of not getting enough sleep during the work week.

 

What Can Help?

Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activites and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, moe sleep may be needed. A good approach is to gradually move to an earlier bed-time. For example, if an extra hour of sleep is needed, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights and then keep the last bedtime. This method will increase the amount of time in bed without causing a sudden change in schedule. However, if work or family schedules do not permit the earlier bedtime, a 30 – to 6o minute daily nap may help.

A person with problem sleepiness is limited in reaching their full potential, let us help you find a solution. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Testing Information: Your Muscle and Nerve Function

ADC - Nerve and Muscle Testing

Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) are tests that measure muscle and nerve function. In most cases, both tests are performed. NCS is most often done first.

During NSC, mild electrical currents are applied to the skin on some parts of your body. This is done to see how quickly impulses travel between nerves. EMG assesses muscle function. To do this, a fine needle is placed under your skin into the muscle being tested. This is repeated on other muscles. The needle allows the electrical activity in your muscles to be measured. No electrical currents are applied with the needle.

During each test, wavy lines (waveforms) appear on a screen or on paper. these lines show how well your nerves and muscles work. These waveforms help to determine your test results.

Before Your Test

Prepare for your test as instructed. Shower or bathe, but don’t use powder, oil, or lotion. your skin should be clean and free of excess oil. Wear loose clothes. Be aware that you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. the entire test will take about 1 hour. Be sure to allow extra time to check in.

During Your Test

You will be asked to lie on an exam table with a blanket over you. You may have one or both of the following:

Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)

Small metal disks (electrodes) will be attached to your skin on the area of your body being tested. This will be done using water based gel or paste. A doctor or technologist will apply mind electrical currents to your skin. Your muscles will twitch. But the test won’t harm you. Currents may again be applied to the same area. Or, the test may continue on other parts of your body.

Electromyography (EMG)

Most of the electrodes will be removed for EMG. The doctor will clean the area being tested with alcohol. A fine needle will be inserted into the muscle in this region. When the needle is inserted, you may feel as if your skin is being pinched. Try to relax and do as instructed.

After Your Test

Before you leave, all electrodes will be removed. You can then get right back to your normal routine. If you feel tired or have some discomfort, take it easy. If you were told to stop taking any for your test, ask when you can start taking them again. Your doctor will let you know when your test results are ready.

For the safety and for the success of your test, tell the technologist if you have any bleeding problems or if you take blood thinners. You may also be asked questions about your overall health. Contact us to answer any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment.

 

 

Stay Sharp: Test Your Brain Wave Activity

ADC - Electroencephalography

Electroencephalography (EEG) is a test that measures your brain wave activity (brain function). Your doctor may order this test to check for seizures or other brain problems. For this test, small metal disks (electrodes) are attached to the scalp with glue, or with water-based gel or paste. During the test, wavy lines (waveforms) appear on a screen or on paper. They will be studied to assess your brain function. In some people who are prone to seizures, parts of this test may slightly increase their chance of having a seizure. But the benefits of this test outweigh the risk.

Before Your Test

Prepare for your test as instructed. Wash and dry your hair. But don’t use any hair styling products. Your scalp and hair should be clean and free of excess oil. Take your routine medications, unless told not to. You may be asked to sleeping during the EEG. To help you do this, you may be told to stay up all or part of the night before the test. Or, you may be given medication to help you sleep during the test. If so, someone will need to drive you home after the test. Your test will take about 90 minutes. But allow extra time to check in. Don’t forget to let your technologist know:

  • What medications you take
  • About any seizures you may have had in the past

During Your Test

You will sit in a reclining chair or lie down on an exam table in a softly lighted room. The technologist will measure certain points on your head He or she will use a special pencil to mark the spots where electrodes will be placed on your scalp. Your scalp will be rubbed with a mild abrasive, and electrodes will be attached. You will then be asked to do any of the following:

  • Relax, and open and close your eyes.
  • Breathe rapidly and deeply for a few minutes.
  • Sense a flashing light through your closed eyes.
  • Relax and go to sleep.

After Your Test

When your test is done, all of the electrodes will be removed. At home, wash your hair to remove any remaining glue, gel or paste. You can get right back to your normal routine. If you stopped taking any medications before the test, ask your doctor when you can start taking them again. Your doctor will let you know when your test results are ready.

Remember to avoid caffeine, but eat meals as usual. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment. 

Traveling Overseas? Don’t Forget Your Vaccinations.

ADC - traveling

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, most people do not think about the possibility of acquiring a travel-related illness. In fact, travel in undeveloped countries and many foreign or tropical countries outside of resort areas, does entail some risks for acquiring local or travel-related diseases. The Travel Clinic at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is available to assist you with problems in this regard. We have a full-service clinic with disease-prevention strategies, information, vaccinations and medications available for travel essentially anywhere in the world. The travel clinic at ADC is supervised by Dr. Taylor Carlisle, a board certified Infection Disease specialist trained in Tropical Medicine and Public Health.

If you are planning to take your family overseas for a vacation, or maybe you’re going on a mission trip with your church, Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic encourages you to take precautions prior to your trip. Our travel clinic not only provides immunizations, but also provides pre-travel counseling and post-travel health evaluations. It is recommended that you see your physician 6 to 8 weeks prior to your departure and then again; after your trip if you experience unusual health issues. Remember, it is easier to take precautions in preventing overseas illnesses than it is to treat them. Call Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic today and let our travel clinic staff assist you in planning for a healthy overseas adventure.

Vaccinations

  • You should get vaccinated against any diseases that may be endemic to the region where you’re headed at least four weeks before a trip out of the country.
  • Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site to learn more about diseases you may come in contact with during your trip.

People are basically the same no matter where you travel.
But the diseases and illnesses can be very different.

The bacteria and germs that live in one country can be very different from those of another region. That’s why lots of people get sick when they travel – they don’t have natural immunity to these germs (or put another way, their bodies haven’t yet learned how to defend themselves against these new, potentially health-threatening invaders). A common example of this is ” traveler’s diarrhea,” which often occur when visitors drink tap water while away. Ever notice how the locals don’t suffer from this malady? That’s because they have natural immunity to the bacteria that are present in their water and you don’t.

You should ask your healthcare provider if you think you will need vaccinations before traveling. Contact us to answer any questions or to schedule an appointment. 

 

 

The Connection Between Sleep And Heart Disease Explained

ADC - sleep and heart disease

Scientific studies have shown a direct connection among sleep, sleep disorders, and heart disease. There is an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (dying from heart stoppage) in the first several hours after waking up. It is known that in there is an increased work demand on the heart that occurs when you wake up. People with sleep-related breathing disorders are more likely to have high blood pressure and are at risk of heart disease and stroke. Treating certain sleep-related breathing disorders may actually decrease a person’s chances of developing certain heart diseases.

Effects of Heart Disease on Sleep

As outlined above, sleep-related breathing disorders can directly cause heart disease. Yet, there are side effects of heart disease on sleep that, though more subtle, are also important to address. For instance, patients with congestive heart failure often report difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep This may be due to shortness of breath that often accompanies heart failure. This shortness of breath is often worse when the patient lies down because blood in the legs flows back into the heart and can overwhelm its ability to pump.

Heart failure patients may have orthopnea (shortness of breath when lying down) or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (waking up from sleep short of breath). Patients who experience these symptoms may feel like they have insomnia since their sleep is interrupted. In addition to experiencing these complications from heart disease, patients often worry about the long-term consequences of a heart attack or chronic heart disease. Anxiety by itself can lead to the development of chronic sleep problems.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention in order to ensure their ability to sleep well.

Good Sleep and A Healthy Heart

Many things can be done to maintain a healthy heart: eat a nutritional diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, get regular medical check-ups, and get adequate amounts of good quality sleep. If you have any kind of heart condition, it is especially important to watch for signs that you may have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as OSA, which could stress your heart. People with OSA are often overweight and experience loud snoring, gasping or choking episodes while sleeping, as well as trouble staying awake during the daytime If you already have hypertension or cardiovascular disease, talk with your healthcare professional about whether or not you may have a sleep and breathing disorder, such as OSA or CSA.

It is also important that patients with congestive heart contrast to people with OSA, those with heart failure and CSA are commonly thin and may not snore at all. if your healthcare professional thinks that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may suggest you have a diagnostic test called a sleep study, or refer you to a sleep medicine specialist. Sleep studies are usually done in a sleep laboratory. Small sensors called electrodes are attached to your body to measure your sleep, be able to determine whether you have any abnormalities in the quality of your sleep. Your healthcare professional is then given the results and the two of you can decide on the best course of treatment. Sleep disorders are treatable, and treatment can lead to a more healthy heart.

How to Sleep Well

These guidelines can help most people sleep better, as well as helping many individuals with different types of sleep disorders. For more specific guidelines about your own sleep problem, consult your healthcare professional.

  • Get up at the same time every day.
  • Go to bed only when sleepy.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack, or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a regular schedule.
  • Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Try to nap at the same time every day; mid-afternoon is best for most people.
  • If sleeping pills are prescribed, they should be used conservatively. Most doctors avoid prescribing sleeping pills for periods longer than three weeks
  • Never combine sleeping pills and alcohol.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention in order to ensure their ability to sleep well. Contact us to answer any questions or to set up an appointment.

The Ultimate Guide: Pulmonary Function Testing

ADC Pulmonary testing

Some information provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine

Pulmonary function tests measure how well the lungs take in and exhale air.  It also helps to determine how efficiently the lungs transfer oxygen into the bloodstream.  This test is helpful in diagnosing certain types of lung disorders such as asthma and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are 2 types of disorders that cause problems with air moving in and out of the lungs:

  • Obstructive. This is when air has trouble flowing out of the lungs due to resistance. This causes a decreased flow of air.
  • Restrictive. This is when the chest muscles can’t expand enough. This creates problems with air flow.

There are many different reasons why pulmonary function tests (PFTs) may be done. They are sometimes done in healthy people as part of a routine physical. Or you may have PFTs if your healthcare provider needs help to diagnose you with a health problem such as:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Lung Fibrosis
  • Bronchiectasis  (a condition in which the airways in the lungs stretch and widen)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (formerly known as“emphysema”)
  • Asbestosis (a condition caused by exposure to asbestos)
  • Sarcoidosis (an inflammation of your lungs, liver, lymph nodes, eyes, skin, or other tissues)
  • Scleroderma (a disease that affects your connective tissue)
  • Pulmonary Tumor
  • Lung Cancer

PFTs are usually safe for most people. However, because the test may require you to breathe in and out quickly, you may feel dizzy and there’s a risk that you might faint. If you feel lightheaded, tell your doctor. The test may cause you to have an asthma attack if you have asthma. In extremely rare cases, PFTs may be responsible for a collapsed lung.

A few pieces of advice are to avoid eating a large meal before testing. A full stomach can prevent lungs from inhaling fully. A person should also avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine, such as chocolate, coffee, and tea, before the test. Caffeine can cause airways to open. Lastly, a person should also avoid smoking and strenuous exercise before the test.

Contact us for any questions or to set up an appointment.