Respiratory and sleep disorders
Millions of people around the world suffer from a range of respiratory diseases including asthma, rhinitis (allergies), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Symptoms can be debilitating and impact a person’s ability to work or enjoy normal everyday activities.
Sleep disorders are also common, ranging from insomnia to restless leg syndrome, where a person feels an overpowering urge to move their legs when they are asleep.
Some respiratory disorders are closely linked to sleep disorders. For example, people with COPD may experience insomnia and frequently wake up during the night because they cannot breathe properly.
Respiratory and sleep disorders can lead to negative health outcomes
Researchers are unravelling links between respiratory and sleep disorders and how these can lead to daytime drowsiness and fatigue. The drop in blood oxygen levels (e.g. during obstructive sleep apnoea) strains the cardiovascular system and increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. People with respiratory and sleep disorders may also experience depression and impaired memory and concentration.
Clinical trials are being carried out to test drugs for chronic lung disease, while new diagnostic imaging technologies and novel therapies are being investigated to improve the lives of people with cystic fibrosis. At the molecular level, researchers are studying how to manipulate processes and mechanisms that cause cancer to help find a way to stop such a devastating disease.
Image caption: Diagnosing respiratory disorders.
Image credit: Stockvault