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Ask Dr. Gott 2/10
Sleep apnea a serious issue
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DEAR DR. GOTT: I am writing with regard to my husband. When he falls asleep at night or even in a chair during the day, his body jerks. There are times when his whole body shakes. I realize when we first fall asleep our body relaxes, but he jerks all night long.
    He asked his doctor, who said it is normal, but I really worry about him. Is this normal? If not, whom should he see about it? I know he is not sleeping soundly because when he jerks, it disturbs his sleep. He is an early riser and then falls asleep in his chair during the day.
    DEAR READER: You have given an extremely accurate description of a medical disorder known as sleep apnea. People who have this condition fall asleep without difficulty but, during the night, they stop breathing. The body responds by trying to awaken them using muscle jerks and other behavior.     (Before you sleep experts write in consternation, I admit that this is an oversimplified explanation. The muscle activity is often clearly the result of low blood oxygen.) This is not normal and can lead to serious health consequences, including heart disease.
    Your husband needs a sleep study in a special lab. Such facilities are available in large hospitals and teaching centers. Ask your family physician for a referral and show him or her my answer to your concerns. If your doctor refuses, change doctors. Sleep apnea is too serious to ignore.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Sleep Wake Disorders." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: My son and I differ on whether it is OK for him to lift heavy weights. He is 14 years old and in the eighth grade.
    We have heard different opinions, but the one that I am concerned about is stunting of growth. Many people agree that this is something to be concerned about. It would seem like weight lifting should be held off until his growth plates are fully developed. Am I wrong?
    DEAR READER: No, you are absolutely correct. Heavy weightlifting can be damaging to tissues, especially in an adolescent. Most trainers agree that repetitions of low weights are appropriate, but power lifting should not be undertaken until a child is fully grown.
    Share my concerns with your son. I can't believe that he would continue a weight program that has the potential to inhibit his development. He should, perhaps, work with a trainer to devise a weight program that is appropriate for a boy his age. Let's not stress his muscles, ligaments and cartilage until these tissues have achieved maturity. Then he can pump up.

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