Month: October, 2010

Children and Adolescents Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Part 2

30 October, 2010 (18:54) | Diabetes | By: Health news

The emerging population of youth diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the United States, particularly among certain ethnic groups, will require intervention programs on a community level to address the specific needs of this growing population. At present, educational programs and youth/family camps for children and adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are extremely limited or unavailable. Prevention programs for this population will need to be culturally appropriate, focus on family involvement, and examine existing lifestyle and nutrition behaviors to increase quality of life and decrease some of the preventable health risks associated with this disease. This exploratory study was designed to ascertain the characteristics and perceived needs of youths with type 2 diabetes so that future programs could be developed and implemented.

Qualitative research methods were utilized to gather information on the characteristics and perceived needs of children and adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Santa Clara County. Fourteen youth between the ages of 10 and 18 years diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and their parents/guardians were surveyed at the Kaiser Santa Teresa Pediatric Endocrine Clinic in San Jose, California. Following the survey questionnaire, which assessed demographics, anthropometrics, lifestyle behaviors, and nutrition and exercise behaviors, each youth participated in a follow-up interview to obtain qualitative information related to his/her diabetes knowledge, perceptions, and management.
The criteria used at the Pediatric Endocrine Clinic to distinguish the diagnosis of a child or adolescent with type 2 diabetes versus type 1 diabetes included: 1) presence of overweight (BMI ≥ 25.0 < 30.0 kg/m2) or obesity (BMI ≥ 30.0 kg/m2), 2) family history of type 2 diabetes, 3) negative antibody markers for type 1 diabetes including anti-insulin, anti-islet cell, and anti-GAD antibodies, 4) the eventual cessation of exogenous insulin.

The principal investigator, as well as the endocrinologists and nursing staff of the Kaiser Santa Teresa Pediatric Endocrine Clinic, conducted recruitment for the study. Subjects and their parents/guardians were invited to participate in the study during medical check-ups with the endocrinologists or via phone calls by the principal investigator.

Informed written consent was obtained from both parents and youth. Subjects were asked to complete a twenty-minute survey containing questions on demographics, family history, diabetes management, lifestyle behaviors, nutrition behaviors, and diabetes risk factors. Upon completion of the questionnaires, subjects were asked if they would participate in a short 15-minute follow-up interview to answer additional questions about their diabetes management. Both the survey questionnaires and follow-up interviews took place in a private office at the Kaiser Santa Teresa Pediatric Endocrine Clinic. To ensure confidentiality of subjects, the questionnaires and follow-up interviews were not associated with any personally identifying information and were identified only by study code. Approval for the study was obtained from the Kaiser Permanente Institutional Review Board, the Kaiser Permanente Central Research Committee, and the San Jose State University Human Subjects Institutional Review Board.

Children and Adolescents Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

30 October, 2010 (09:45) | Diabetes | By: Health news

Type 2 diabetes has been traditionally considered a disease that affects adults over age 40, however, it is now becoming more prevalent among children and teenagers. Until recently, type 2 diabetes accounted for two percent to three percent of all children diagnosed with diabetes mellitus in North America (Glaser, 1997). Over the past five years there has been a ten-fold increase in children under age 18 diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (Buck, 1999).

Currently, of all newly diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes within the United States, between eight to 46 percent are children under age 18. This wide range of youth diagnosed with type 2 diabetes reflects the unequal distribution among the various ethnic groups who exhibit this condition (Libman & Arslanian, 1999). In addition, current percentage estimates of newly diagnosed children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes have been extrapolated from existing studies examining specific populations with this disease (Sones, 2001). For example, the Pima Indian youth of Arizona reportedly have the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world. The current prevalence of type 2 diabetes among Pima Indian youth within the 15-to-19-year age group is 51 per 1,000 compared to a prevalence of 4.5 per 1,000 for all U.S. American Indian populations. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes among youth from other ethnic groups within the U.S. has not been extensively researched and population-based prevalence estimates are currently unavailable (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002). Recent studies, however, indicate that the populations most at risk for type 2 diabetes include American and Canadian Indians, African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Japanese, and Asian Indians (Ehtisham, Barrett, & Shaw, 2000). State and county statistics documenting the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in youth within California are also unavailable.

While the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and medical management of type 2 diabetes in adults has been extensively studied, very little is known about the disease in children. In adulthood, type 2 diabetes is associated with genetic, environmental and lifestyle risk factors such as obesity, high energy consumption, and low levels of physical activity (Pinhas-Hamiel et al., 1999). In childhood, however, the particular risk factors and characteristics associated with type 2 diabetes are just beginning to be identified.

The majority of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes display certain traits and characteristics that differ from a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are typically of normal weight, do not have a family history of diabetes, rarely present with acanthosis nigricans, are dependent on insulin for survival, and are predominantly Caucasian (Libman & Arslanian, 1999). Current literature suggests that most youth diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are in middle to late puberty, are overweight or obese, have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes, and demonstrate signs of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia manifested either as acanthosis nigricans (AN), a cutaneous skin condition, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or hirsutism (Beck et al., 2001; Glaser, 1997; Libman & Arslanian, 1999; Scott, Smith, Cradock, & Pihoker, 1997; Treviño, Marshall Jr, & Hale, 1999). Early identification of the characteristics and diabetes risk factors among children and adolescents may lead to early detection of diabetes and help delay the onset of this life-long disease.

Social Smoking by University of California. Part 3

29 October, 2010 (18:09) | Smoking | By: Health news

University of California, Santa Cruz, students appear to have evolved a widespread pattern of lighter cigarette smoking. UCSC students report smoking cigarettes socially at much higher rates, smoking heavily at much lower rates, and smoking less than the whole cigarette than their parents do. The small number of parent social smokers, the large number of student social smokers, and the lack of correlation between parent smoking status and student social smoking status suggest social smoking is incubated in modern high school and college environments. Conversely, the few UCSC students most at risk for future heavy smoking have heavy-smoking parents and have progressed to daily smoking themselves.

Two questions arise: First, does students’ “social smoking” represent a new trend toward lighter, non-addictive smoking that promises to reduce cigarette consumption and health injury? Bjartveit and Tverdal (2005) find that compared to smokers of 25 or more cigarettes per day, those who smoke 1-4 cigarettes per day experienced reduced relative risks of ischemic heart disease of 20%, cancer (60%), lung cancer (90%), and mortality (50%). However, they also found that compared to nonsmokers, light daily smokers suffered significantly higher rates of lung cancer and ischemic heart disease, slightly higher rates of cancer, and higher rates of overall mortality. The dose-response effect found suggests that smoking less than daily would further reduce the hazards of smoking, though not to zero.

Second, is social smoking among college students a stable, equilibrium habit or simply the precursor to heavy daily smoking, albeit commencing at older ages than in the past? This cross-sectional study is inadequate to assess that question; in fact, it provides evidence for both views. Older UCSC students report similar rates of social smoking but higher rates of daily (including heavy daily) smoking than do younger students. However, a large majority of current UCSC social smokers report smoking less (72%) or the same amount (23%) now than in the past; only a small fraction (5%) report smoking more.
If the effects observed are largely generational, we would expect follow-up studies to find today’s UCSC 18-19 year-old social smokers are not taking up daily smoking at the levels found among today’s UCSC over-21 students. If social smoking is indeed a generational trend, it is likely to be stable and to predict much lower levels of cigarette consumption and smoking-related morbidity and mortality in the future among these student populations.

Health educators and policy makers are understandably reluctant to promote any form of tobacco use (University Health Center, 2005; Office of Health Education, 2005). Fortunately, many measures that deter smoking, such as raised taxes on tobacco and smoke-free campuses and other locales (Bratton & Trieu, 2005) may also deter addictive smoking by adding to its cost and inconvenience. Further longitudinal study of the conditions that preserve lighter social smoking as an equilibrium habit or a precursor to smoking cessation, versus the conditions that promote transition from social smoking to addictive smoking, is needed before policies to address social smoking can be refined.

Social Smoking by University of California. Part 2

29 October, 2010 (14:58) | Quit smoking | By: Health news

This study examines smoking behaviors and trends among 670 University of California, Santa Cruz, undergraduate students in 13 sociology classes from 2003 to 2006. The brief survey, completed anonymously, asked students whether they smoked a tobacco cigarette in the previous year (light social smokers), month (monthly social), or day (daily), or more than 10 cigarettes in the previous day (heavy daily); whether they smoked the entire cigarette at one time or only part of it; and whether they smoked more, less, or the same as in the recent past (Appendix A). Students were asked similar questions about their parents’ smoking. The students sampled ranged in age from 18 to 43, with a mean age of 20.6 years; 27% were 18-19 years old, 53% were 20-21, 15% were 22-24, and 5% were over age 25. Nearly two-thirds were female. By residence, 95% were from California, evenly split between the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere.

Contrary to expectations, UCSC students had significantly higher rates of smoking within the previous year than students in nationwide surveys or than their parents. However, two-thirds of smoking among UCSC students today is social rather than daily, compared to 60% of smoking by students nationally in 2004, half of student smoking in 1980, and just 16% of smoking by their parents.
Further, nearly half of UCSC’s social smokers, including 64% of occasional social smokers, report smoking only part of the cigarette when they smoke. Social smokers’ comments on surveys indicate that passing a cigarette around a group is a common practice. Large majorities of social smokers report that they smoke less today than in the past; only 5% report smoking more today. Heavier daily smokers show the opposite trend—nearly all say they smoke the entire cigarette, and 40% say their smoking has increased in recent years.

Student smoking even as late as college remains strongly and linearly related to whether their parents smoke. Students whose parents never smoked are nearly twice as likely to be nonsmokers themselves. Although two-thirds of the small number of students with social-smoking parents were social smokers themselves, parents’ smoking habits overall do not predict students’ social smoking. However, parents’ heavier daily smoking habits are strongly related to students’ daily — and, especially, heavy daily — smoking.

Compared to students with never-smoking parents, the few with parents who smoke heavily are nearly nine times more likely to be heavy daily smokers.

Social Smoking by University of California

28 October, 2010 (16:43) | Smoking | By: Health news

While many health interests worry about persistently high rates of cigarette smoking among college students, little research has tracked qualitative changes in student habits such as “social smoking.” A survey of 670 University of California, Santa Cruz, undergraduate students ages 18-43, mean age 20.6, found 57% of the weighted sample smoked cigarettes in the past year, compared to 37% of college undergraduates nationally and 34% of UCSC students’ parents. However, two-thirds of UCSC student smokers smoke socially (less than daily), compared to 60% of student smokers nationally and 16% of parent smokers. Half of UCSC social smokers report smoking less than an entire cigarette per occasion and 70% report smoking less today than in the past; the fraction who smoke heavily tend to have parents who smoke heavily. Students’ reports indicating their social smoking is an equilibrium behavior unlikely to lead to heavier smoking need longitudinal investigation.

Concern has been expressed that college students ages 18-24 show the highest rates of cigarette smoking today, as well as lesser declines in cigarette smoking over the last 25 years, compared to younger teens and older adults. Monitoring the Future (Johnston, O’Malley & Schulenberg, 1980-2004) finds the percentage of college students one to four years beyond high school who reported smoking cigarettes in the previous year or previous month in 2004 was virtually the same as in the first survey in 1980 (Appendix A). However, bigger drops were recorded in college students’ daily smoking, especially heavier (half a pack or more) daily smoking.

Persistent high smoking rates among these young, well-educated populations together with standard assumptions about nicotine’s addictiveness create apprehensions of a future smoking revival. However, there are indications that today’s smoking among high school seniors and college students differs qualitatively from past patterns. In 1980, 51% of college students who smoked at all smoked daily and 35% smoked heavily; in 2004, just 38% and 19%, respectively (Johnston, O’Malley & Schulenberg, 1980-2005). High school and college students’ smoking, once dominated by daily use, increasingly is dominated by episodic weekend or occasional “social” use.

Students’ trend toward “social smoking” is poorly understood (Moran, Wechsler & Rigotti, 2004). Some health experts regard it as a stable behavior but argue true social smoking is rare (University Health Center, 2005), while others view it as a stage among college students who smoke cigarettes occasionally in connection with drinking alcohol and socializing (Hines, Fretz & Nollen, 1998). Others believe college students’ social smoking “may represent a stage in the uptake of smoking” (Moran, Wechsler & Rigotti, 2004, p. 1033) and “can wind up as a lifelong problem” (Office of Health Education, 2005). A California Department of Health Services anti-smoking ad declares that young “social smokers” will progress rapidly to pack-a-day smokers.

Conclusion- Responding to Disparities

28 October, 2010 (11:21) | Disabilities | By: Health news

Eliminating health discrepancies in people with disabilities requires changes in access to medical care, improvements in the delivery of health promotion, increased prevention strategies implemented for secondary conditions, and removal of environmental barriers. Responding to these health disparities requires a comprehensive, multi-level approach that involves persons with disabilities, health care and other service providers, and policy makers. Available data indicate that having a disability puts one at substantially higher risk for experiencing poorer health status than the general population.

Disparities appear related to both differences in access to medical care and to health promotion services. These disparities need to be addressed at the level of the person with the disability, the professionals who provide services, and importantly, the policies that impede or facilitate better access to medical care and health promotion. Four categories of policy change are recommended along with key examples of needed policy reform:
• Legal and Regulatory Reforms that enforce the ADA to address accessibility in conjunction with broader definitions of medical necessity to address habilitation needs, simplification of regulations to make maneuvering the health care system easier, tax incentives that support persons with disabilities in purchasing equipment or making home modifications to increase access to the community, and increased physical accessibility of medical and fitness facilities and equipment (e.g., mammography machines, athletic equipment).
• Health Plan Benefits that ensure access to needed specialty care, habilitative and rehabilitative services, care coordinated “defragmentation”, and coverage for prescription medications and durable medical equipment.
• Communication Enhancement that includes interpreter services for non-English speakers, sign language interpreters, health information materials in alternative formats (e.g., large print, electronic copies for screen readers), adequate time for medical care appointments, and use of “plain language” to promote comprehension by all, but particularly people with cognitive disabilities.
• Health Promotion Programs that include access to generic health promotion programs like smoking cessation, weight management, drug and alcohol treatment, complementary and alternative medicine, and accommodation of facilities and staff to allow equitable participation by people with disabilities.

With the changing demographics of America, the proportion of persons experiencing disabilities will increase. Public health has a significant role to play in addressing and ameliorating the health disparities experienced by people with disabilities.

Communication Disparities

27 October, 2010 (18:53) | Disabilities | By: Health news

The dearth of interpreters and health professionals trained in American Sign Language and the lack of assistive listening devices, TV decoders, and TTYs can create barriers for deaf and hard of hearing people in accessing healthcare and health promotion activities (Cardinal & Spaziani, 2003; O’Day et al., 2002; USDHHS, 2001). For people with vision impairments, the lack of readable signs and resources in alternative print formats can make participating in clinical encounters and in the healthcare system (such as reading a prescription) difficult. People with mental retardation and cognitive impairments experience a great deal of communication difficulty in accessing effective healthcare, including the lack of accessible documents in easy to understand “plain language” (Tuffrey-Wijne, 1997). According to the Surgeon General (USDHHS, 2002), these challenges are even more daunting for people with mental retardation from minority communities where services are not provided in their primary language or that follow their traditional cultural practices.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Disparities
The Surgeon General has stressed the importance of individual responsibility with regard to healthy behaviors and the importance of individuals with disabilities engaging in health-promoting activities to maintain wellness and prevent the occurrence of secondary conditions (USDHHS, 2002; 2005). People with disabilities are at higher risk of being overweight and obese, engaging in less physical activity, being sedentary, and using alcohol and tobacco (Patrick, 2002). The associations are well known between smoking and lung cancer, alcohol and other drug use and cardiovascular problems, hypertension and stroke, and being overweight and sedentary and experiencing diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Individuals with disabilities can take responsibility for a portion of their own health by becoming joint managers of their own rehabilitation program (Marge, 1994), engaging in healthy behaviors (such as maintaining a well balanced diet and engaging in a recommended program of physical exercise) and avoiding harmful behaviors such as tobacco use and substance abuse (Rimmer & Braddock, 2002). A number of factors may contribute to disparities in accessing disease prevention and health promotion programs. For example, the cost of participating in fitness programs, transportation difficulties, and lack of disability-knowledgeable staff are major barriers to successful health promotion (Rimmer, Braunscweig, Hedman, & Heller, 2002). Other important barriers to participating in health promotion programs may include the physical inaccessibility of health promotion facilities and equipment and a lack of information in accessible formats (Cardinal & Spaziani, 2003).

Health Care Disparities

27 October, 2010 (14:52) | Disabilities | By: Health news

Access to quality medical care, when and as often as needed, is critical for maintaining good health and functioning, detecting and intervening early for potential health problems, and addressing acute health concerns. For people with disabilities who experience a “thinner margin of health” (Pitetti & Campbell, 1991), access to primary health care is particularly important for maintaining good health and functioning. Yet people with disabilities report having more unmet health care needs (NOD/Harris, 2004) and receiving fewer services for routine health care and preventive services than the general population (Chan, Doctor, MacLehose, Lawson, Rosenblatt, Baldwin, 1999; Diab & Johnson, 2004; Drum, 2003; Drum, Horner-Johnson, Krahn, & Culley, 2002; Hagglund, Clark, Conforti, & Shigaki, 1999; Iezzoni, McCarthy, Davis, & Siebens, 2000; NOD/Harris, 2004). For example, data from the 1994 National Health Interview Survey Disability Supplement showed that working-age people with mobility limitations experienced far lower rates of health services such as blood pressure checks, cholesterol screening, mammography, and far lower rates of health behavior counseling around issues related to alcohol and substance abuse, diet and eating habits, regular physical exercise, and smoking cessation (Jones & Beatty, 2002). More recent data from a national survey of adult primary care providers identified physician-reported differences in the care of patients with and without disabilities. Physicians provided decreased attention to a number of preventive care services (i.e., blood pressure, cholesterol, colorectal screens, mammograms) and less counseling on high-risk behaviors (i.e., smoking, exercise, stress) for their adult patients with physical disabilities (RRTC: Health and Wellness, 2003).

Two state-population database linkage studies demonstrate other dimensions of inequitable access to health care. Individuals with disability-eligible Medicaid codes are slightly over-represented in the cancer registry for smoking-related cancers, and women with mobility and/or cognitive impairments are at increased risk of having their cancers detected at later stages (Austin, 2003). A second population data-base study documented that adults with disability Medicaid codes participated in publicly sponsored drug and alcohol treatment at only one-half the rate of other Medicaid subpopulations (Krahn, Deck, Gabriel, & Bersani, 2004), despite other studies suggesting substance abuse rates that are equal to or higher than the general population (Hubbard, Everett, & Khan, 1996; Moore, Greer, & Li, 1994).

Health differences between people with and without disabilities appear unrelated to insurance coverage, since people with disabilities are as likely to have insurance as the general population (NOD/Harris, 2004). Rather they appear to be more systemic in terms of health care provider behaviors, clinic site and medical equipment inaccessibility, transportation difficulties, inaccessible fitness facilities, and availability and accessibility of health information for persons with disabilities (Cardinal & Spaziani, 2003; Downs, Wile, Krahn, & Turner, 2004; O’Day, Dautel & Scheer, 2002).

Food For High Blood Pressure Reduction

26 October, 2010 (19:04) | Hypertension | By: Health news

Foods for high blood pressure reduction include unsalted foods, low fat foods and foods high in potassium and foods that are high in fiber. Sodium is an enemy to hypertension. By itself, a high sodium diet will usually elevate blood pressure readings. Foods that are high in potassium tend to neutralize or even lower levels of sodium. So, can we put this all together into a diet that will help lower blood pressure? Yes, we can, and in this article, we will do so.

Just about any bean you can think of is high in potassium, and therefore good for lowering blood pressure. Baked beans, lentils beans, lima beans, refried beans; they’re all great foods especially when you’re looking to avoid hypertension. Nuts, such as peanuts, almonds and Brazil nuts are also very good. However, you must make sure they are unsalted or else they will go from a very good food to a very bad one.

Spinach, potatoes and soybeans are also high in potassium. So, adding these to your diet could be very helpful for your anti-hypertension campaign. Fresh garlic, while not being known for its high potassium content, is known as an effective blood pressure reducer. Chop it up finely and sprinkle it over your meal and you will get garlic’s great benefits without its overbearing taste.

Adding things to your diet is one way to help reduce blood pressure. However, aside from salt, there are other things you should cut out of your diet. For instance, you should lay low on fatty meats and replace them with fish and poultry. Even at that, if you are replacing a hamburger with a chicken breast, it should be skinless.

Though it may not be appropriate for everyone, most people who are told to go on a blood pressure lowering diet are told so because they also need to lose a few pounds. If you are in this position, remember it is better to eat several small meals daily than it is to eat one large one. This is because the metabolism tends to shut down when it is not burning food. So, when you suddenly eat a big meal you will not be able to burn off all the calories in the meal and they will be stored as fat.

However, when you eat several smaller meals each day, your body will be able to burn all the calories you’re eating. Plus when you are not eating, your metabolism will not just shut down suddenly, so it will continue to burn calories.

Remember to get your physical checkups regularly and discuss what you’re eating with your doctor. Even if it seems like you have the healthiest diet plan in the world, your doctor must approve it before you can go on it. The problem is, though it may be healthy for most other people, it might not be right for you.

How To Avoid Pollen In Allergy Season

26 October, 2010 (11:45) | Allergies | By: Health news

It is nice to see all those beautiful flowers in spring, maybe right below your window- a lovely sight to brighten up your day, isn’t it? Except if you are allergic to pollen! Spring and summer are the most critical season for all of us having to live with allergies or asthma.

Do you know that usually we inhale daily two tablespoons of particles that float through the air we inhale, and a large part of these is also pollen? We all agree that we cannot shut ourselves up in our homes during these risky seasons, so let’s see what we can do to minimize the effects.

Here are 5 tips that summarize it all:

1. During pollen season, it is advisable to keep your windows closed. Your home and your workplace should be air-conditioned, invest in a good quality HEPA filter, it will pay itself in no time (Take a look at the great offers they have on Amazon). First thing, install a HEPA filter in your bedroom, this is the place where you spend 1/3 of your lifetime!

2. If you have to go outside, avoid morning hours between 5-10 A.M. Upon your return from outdoors, rinse your nose with a saline solution, there are great sprays that you can buy at your drugstore!

3. Is it a nice sunny day, just perfect to dry your freshly washed bedding? Avoid doing so, pollen will cling to fabric and you’ll just do worse. Invest in a good drying machine instead (Amazon is a great starting point for quality stuff).

4. If you have a garden or a yard, try to keep the vegetation at minimum, mow the grass frequently and do not permit those plants to grow tall. Otherwise, they will start pollinating and this is the last thing you want. Remove all those excess weeds, not only will your garden look tidy, but you will also eliminate a source of pollen.

5. Do you like your morning run? A bit of tai-chi in the local park early in the morning? Change your habits, find a nice spot in your home to install a treadmill, or a bicycle. A simple mat on your bedroom floor will do. Also, if you have a dog to walk to, make sure to clean its fur thoroughly upon return from the daily walk, to avoid it carrying pollen in the house.

In fact, these are small yet effective changes, that won’t affect so much your daily routine, but in the long run will bring loads of benefits for your health!

How Seizure Threshold Depends on Breathing

25 October, 2010 (22:25) | Mental Health | By: Health news

Carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas we exhale, controls excitability of nerve cells, as it has been proven by decades of medical research. Slight rise in CO2 level in the brain reduces excitability of nervous cell and makes people, when studies are done on humans, calmer and more relaxed. Voluntary hyperventilation, or overbreathing, causes the opposite effect: it makes brain cells more excitable and people more anxious. You may easy recall horror movies where in the state of extreme panic people breathe heavily through their mouth. As a result, their nerve cells become over-excited (or “irritable”, as it was called in physiological studies done decades ago) and predisposed people become confused, they cannot make their mind (indecisive) and suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. All these research has direct relationship to seizures, seizure threshold and epilepsy.

During seizures, nerve cells become hypersensitive and discharge signals spontaneously, while adjacent brain areas amplify these signals. Furthermore, numerous studies devoted to epilepsy proved that hyperventilation readily provokes seizures. Many medical studies (quoted below) suggested that hyperventilation readily provokes seizures in all patients. As a result, when doing EEG test, medical professionals use hyperventilation to induce seizures so that to confirm the diagnosis of epilepsy or related conditions leading to seizures. These are some of the titles of publications, which claimed the ability of overbreathing and low brain CO2 to produce seizures:

- Will a critical level of hyperventilation-induced hypocapnia [low CO2] always induce an absence seizure? (Wirrell et al, 1996)

- Effect of hyperventilation on seizure activation: potentiation by antiepileptic drug tapering (Jonas et al, 2010 )

- Childhood absence epilepsy: Electroclinical features and diagnostic criteria (Ma et al, 2010)

- Clinical and electroencephalographic characteristics of epilepsy with myoclonic absences (Yang et al, 2009)

- Utility of daily supervised hyperventilation during long-term video-EEG monitoring (Arain et al, 2009)

- Moderate hyperventilation prolongs electroencephalogram seizure duration of the first electroconvulsive therapy (Sawayama et al, 2008).

- Correlation between cerebral perfusion and hyperventilation enhanced focal spiking activity (Marrosu et al, 2000)

In a 1972 research article published in the British Journal of Anesthesia, the scientists measured the exact numbers by monitoring averaged evoked electromyogram of brain cells. They found that even very slight changes in brain CO2 levels have profound effect on seizure threshold. For example, just 2.5% decrease in CO2 levels in nerve cells increased their excitability more than 2 times (Higashi et al, 1972). Such small CO2 decrease can be achieved by one large sigh or a few coughs!

While normal CO2 concentrations (the medical norm) is 40 mm Hg, most modern people breathe much more than this medical norm established about 100 years ago. Hence, most people are CO2-deficient. In sick people with chronic disorders, breathing is even heavier (you can often see and hear panting of the sick at light physical exertion). Hence, it is normal that rates of epilepsy and incidence of seizures have had a sharp increase during the last century. This change in breathing pattern (from slow and light to deep and fast) was due to abnormal lifestyle factors for the modern civilization, including mouth breathing, lack of physical exercise (or exercise with breathing through the mouth), chest breathing, overeating, sleeping on one’s back and many others. Furthermore, hundreds of studies proved that overbreathing leads to lowered brain and body oxygen content and brain hypoxia (low O2) is another contributing factor.

Consider common environmental and lifestyle that make breathing heavier and produce hyperventilation in all people:

- stress (when we are stressed our unconscious breathing becomes deeper and faster)

- hyperthermia (or overheating)

- overeating (one may know that physical exercise is very hard after large meals)

- abnormally high or low blood sugar

- sleep deprivation.

You can easily see that these are exactly the same factors that can trigger various types of seizures, including stress-induced seizures, febrile seizures (due to fever in children), hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic seizures, and seizures triggered by lack of sleep. Virtually anything that is harmful and abnormal for the human body, including poisons, drugs, toxins, infections, poor posture, strong emotions makes breathing heavier and can lead to seizures only if the person have heavy unconscious breathing at rest.

Hence, the solution is to learn how to improve oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body and brain by normalizing breathing using breathing techniques and correction of lifestyle risk factors.Then we can prevent all types and chances of seizures and treat epilepsy successfully.

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