Molly Hartwick On Sleep Disorders among Cancer Patients
What kind of sleep disorders do cancer patients have, and how can sleep disorders affect cancer patients?
Acid Reflux, also known as GERD, is one sleep disorder that can lead to cancer, according to an article, “GERD and Sleep,” on the official website of the National Sleep Foundation. The disease, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, affects five to seven percent of the world’s population, and those with the problem have nighttime heartburn. Those with the problem often have insomnia, restless legs syndrome daytime sleepiness, and sleep apnea in greater degrees than those without it. People with the disease often cough and choke while sleeping or attempting to sleep.
According to the article, “Sleep Disorders,” on the official government website, cancer.gov, the diagnosis of cancer, is one factor, along with anxiety, loss of social support, and depression that leads to sleep disorders among those 65 and older.
According to the National Cancer Institute, those diagnosed with cancer, such as mesothelioma, have a greater risk of developing insomnia and for being affected by disorders of the cycle of sleeping and waking. Although there are many other disorders, insomnia is the most prevalent among the American population, according to the Institute. Among cancer patients, insomnia can be caused by physical or psychological factors, and even by the cancer treatment itself, according to the website of The National Cancer Institute.
Sleep problems can be increased by cough, pain, fever, draining lesions, gastrointestinal alterations, fatigue, and other factors among cancer patients. They can also be caused by vitamins and such medications as neuroleptics, which are given to treat nausea and vomiting, corticosteroids, and sympathomimetics which are given for the treatment of dyspnea.
Treatment of cancer patients can cause side effects, such as pain, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, incontinence, and others that can affect the cycle of waking and sleeping.
Medicines given to patients can affect sleep, including hypnotics, sedatives, propranolol, methyldopa, anticonvulsants, oral contraceptives, thyroid preparations, alcohol, and others.
Doctors have found that some treatments that work for healthy patients with insomnia often work for cancer patients too. They believe the best treatments involve physical and psychological factors, however. They do not want cancer patients to take hypnotics on a long-term basis. Using some medicines to treat insomnia among cancer patients can be harmful, according to many doctors. Such treatments as cognitive therapy (talking therapy), stimulus control, and sleep restriction often seem to work best. About 30 to 54 percent of cancer patients experience insomnia. Some doctors believe that treatment for insomnia should be routine among those being treated for cancer.
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