Respiration problems in sleep apnea - which causes people to momentarily stop breathing multiple times throughout the night, for seconds to minutes at a time - appear to worsen during the colder months of the year, according to a study from Brazil.
Changes in weight and seasonal allergies can affect sleep apnea, and researchers writing in the journal Chest wanted to see if weather changes might also have an impact.
"More sleep disordered breathing events were recorded in wintertime than in other seasons," wrote study leader Cristiane Maria Cassol from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.
Cassol and her team said it could be due to several causes, including winter-related upper-airway problems that intensify the severity of symptoms and the use of burning wood to heat homes during the winter.
The team utilized data from sleep clinic patients and looked at how many times their rest was disturbed by breaks in breathing. The study included one night of sleep for more than 7,500 patients over a 10-year-period.
Researchers then compared the severity of the patients' apnea to the weather conditions at the time, including humidity, temperature and air pollution.
Patients who came in during colder months had more nighttime breaks in breathing than those who sought treatment during warmer months. During the winter, patients stopped breathing an average of 18 times an hour compared to 15 times an hour during the summer.
Similarly, the sleep clinic was more likely to see the most severe cases - people who stopped breathing more than 30 times an hour - during the colder months.
About 34 percent of patients who came in during cold weather had severe apnea, compared to 28 percent of patients during warmer weather.
The team found that certain weather conditions, such as high atmospheric pressure and humidity and high levels of the air pollutant carbon monoxide - were tied to worse cases of apnea.
But the study could not determine whether it was the weather itself that was responsible for the more severe apneas.
Jerome Dempsey, who studies breathing problems at the University of Wisconsin and wasn't involved in the study, said it makes sense that airway infections and weather could have an effect on sleep apnea, but that the changes across the seasons were small.
"There are so many things that affect sleep apnea, including the decision of when to come visit" a sleep clinic, Dempsey told Reuters Health.
In other words, it might not be the weather but the time of year that makes it more convenient for patients to take the time to seek treatment.
He added that while winter-related conditions such as colds or allergies might intensify sleep apnea, the biggest risk factor is obesity. SOURCE: http://bit.ly/MqNmmE
A 36-year-old man from Senegal is being tested in Barcelona.
MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has deployed 1,000 of its own staff in the stricken region, running centres that currently have 300 beds
On Wednesday, the residents of the two communities woke up just after the president ordered the quarantine only to find their community barricaded with soldiers and police officers preventing people from leaving or entering the two areas.
They were given ZMapp, a drug used on a handful of patients in the West African outbreak and produced by U.S.-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical.
A local priest who asked not to be named said that the illness had affected several villages and estimated that the death toll was over 100 people.
The calculation highlights the dilemma facing officials considering how to distribute the tiny quantities of unproven drugs that are likely to be available in the near term
"We are hopeful and grateful to God and to the medical team that they are showing signs of improvement," Liberia's Information Minister Lewis Brown told a press conference on Tuesday.
The decision came as the Ivorian national football team is due to face Sierra Leone, one of the countries that had been hard hit by the Ebola outbreak, next month in Abidjan as part of the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 qualifiers.
Infant products are particularly vulnerable to food safety scares in China after powdered milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine led to the deaths of at least six infants in 2008
Countries that do not have Ebola cases must strengthen their capacity to detect and contain any cases immediately, the WHO said
At least twenty patients broke out of quarantine in the Liberian capital after protesters looted a medical clinic.
At the end of last year, 13,254 tonnes of spent fuel was being held in temporary storage at nuclear plants, according to data from the commission, mostly in water tanks but some in concrete containers.
The 35-year-old Nigerian woman was en route to India on a treatment tour from advanced cancer.
Doctors Without Borders International President Joanne Liu said it will take six months to bring the Ebola virus under control in West Africa.
The death toll from the world's worst outbreak of Ebola stood on Wednesday at 1,069 from 1,975 confirmed, probable and suspected cases, the agency said