Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pickwickian Syndrome and Its Effects on the Human Sleep Cycle

What is this syndrome about and how did it get its name?
This syndrome is often found in obese individuals. Their excessive weight leads to intense pressure against the chest walls. In turn, breathing is disrupted. This syndrome is characterized by an obese person's inability to breathe deeply or rapidly enough. As a result, the blood has lower oxygen level and higher carbon dioxide concentration. This often leads to sleep disruption.
Most syndromes are named after the doctor who first discovers it. This is not the case with Pickwickian syndrome. The name is derived from a literary character by Charles Dickens. This is because in Dickens's 1837 novel "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club," a character named Joe exhibited all the symptoms of the disorder. The character was obese and experienced difficulty in sleeping. Although it is named as such, most doctors today refer to it as obesity hypoventilation disorder.
What are the signs and symptoms? What effect does it have on health?
Individuals who suffer from the syndrome often experience poor sleep quality, leading to lack of sleep. This lack of sleep then leads to excessive daytime sleepiness. Other symptoms include difficulty staying awake during the day and extreme drowsiness. In some cases, it can also lead to depression, irritability, and headaches. Drowsiness and headaches are caused by the increased amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Low oxygen levels in the bloodstream can also lead to heart strain.
People with OHD have a hard time staying awake during the day. Those who suffer from it end up falling asleep while doing simple day to day tasks. There have also been reports linking the drowsiness caused by the Pickwickian syndrome to car accidents. This is called driving drowsiness, and it can lead to fatal accidents.
What are the treatment methods?
Because the syndrome is linked with obesity, the most obvious treatment is weight loss. This can be achieved through common ways such as diet and exercise. For extreme cases, weight loss surgery is sometimes necessary.
Weight loss, especially in the case of the obese, is a difficult thing to achieve. It takes a lot of commitment, especially for those who work full time jobs. Apart from the difficulty finding the time, weight loss regimens also take lots of time. It's a gradual process - not instant. Doctors have realized this, and it's the reason why they have come up with treatment methods for breathing assistance. These methods involve the use of special machines that are invasive or non-invasive. It's up to the patient to decide which option to use. Of course, choosing the option shouldn't be done solely by the patient. It's best to consult with a physician or specialist before taking action.
It's also important to remember that the symptoms of OHD have been found in non-obese individuals. Anyone showing symptoms of OHD, obese or not, should get checked by a doctor. Treatment is essential to restore the individual's regular sleep cycle.
Tia Arnold is a physician who has assisted many patients who have problems with their sleep cycle. For more resources on how you can get help with your problem, please read up about pickwickian syndrome and more.
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