The Millstone Times November 2021

♥ HEALTH & WELLNESS What is a Nocturnal Panic Attack? By: Nazli Mohideen

A panic attack is generally described as a sudden feeling of intense anxiety. The overwhelming sensation of fear coupled with a multitude of physical symptoms brings some people to think that they are having a heart attack or are even dying when expe- riencing a panic attack. Some of these crippling symptoms include difficulty breathing, nausea, increased heart rate, shaking, sweating, hot flashes, and more. Depending on the severity of one’s anxiety, a single attack can last anywhere from a couple of minutes up to a couple of hours, and become more frequent, too. Stress, an anxiety or panic disorder, drug or alcohol withdrawal, or trauma can all be potential triggers for a panic attack. Nocturnal panic attacks, in a similar sense, are just as physically and mentally agonizing, but they happen at night and can occur without a trigger. They typically last only a couple of minutes, but if intense enough, might wake up the individual. Having nocturnal panic attacks is very common, and if someone suffers from panic attacks during the day, they are even more likely to have them at night. Symptoms are nearly identical, but since nocturnal panic attacks tend to shake one out of their sleep cycle, coping mechanisms vary. Practicing different breathing techniques and relaxing one’s muscles is key. However, it is also recommended to move around as well, just enough to distract oneself, but not add to any physical symptoms of the attack. Activities like listening to music, reading a little bit of a book, or practicing a short yoga flow are all suggested. Additional coping mechanisms include medica- tion and cognitive behavioral therapy. Equally as important, there are a few prevention tactics regarding nocturnal panic attacks. For one, having a consistent sleep schedule where an individual has an ample amount of rest lessens anxiety and therefore, the chance of a panic attack during the night. In addition, avoiding technology use before bed will help one not only fall asleep quicker, but stay asleep longer, too. Since the attacks are possibly triggered by substances like alcohol, and stimulants like caffeine and sugar, it is best to steer clear of these before bed as well. Even though there isn’t a cure-all to panic attacks, talking to your doctor will be the best way to see which treatment plan fits you and your needs. If you or a loved one is struggling with panic attacks, there is the Panic Attack Hotline to call at 1-800-64-PANIC (72642) where you can talk to staff during an attack, day or night. Sources: | | |

Continued from page 12... Should People Over Age 75 Be Screened for Colorectal Cancer?

“Our data provide additional support for the USPSTF recommendations. And they give people more confidence that if they decide to continue screening beyond age 75, or even to start screening for the first time after age 75, there are data to support that decision,” Dr. Chan said. More Research Questions to Address The study's results are far from the last word on this subject, researchers said. Because this was an observational study, “it is not completely clear if the improved outcomes are from the screening [test] or from the selection of patients to get screened,” Dr. Mehta said. The researchers could not account for factors that may have influenced doctors’ decisions on whether to suggest screening to certain patients and people’s decisions to undergo screening, he explained. For example, because colonoscopy is invasive and the preparation can be difficult, it’s possible that only the older participants who were fit and healthy underwent this screening test. And that could explain the lower death rate seen in the group that was screened. Additional studies will be needed to guide future recommendations on colorectal cancer screening in older adults, Dr. Umar said. “I hope we will reach a point where we can start to think about more sophisticated ways [than a person’s age] to help guide” decisions about colorectal cancer screening—for example, by looking at certain lifestyle factors or genetic risk factors that predispose some people to the disease, Dr. Chan said. Although this study focused on colonoscopy, “there is increasing evidence of the value of noninvasive screening tests for colorectal cancer, such as stool- based testing,” which people can do at home and don’t require cleansing the colon, Dr. Chan said. “And how those tests fit into screening recommenda- tions for people over age 75 remains an area for future research.” Studying the role that stool tests may play in screening people of all screening-eligible ages will also be important because the number of specialists (gas- troenterologists) in the United States available to do colonoscopies for people aged 45 to 75 is already limited, Dr. Umar said. Finally, because most participants in the new study were White, the investigators note the need for studies in older people of other racial and ethnic groups to see if disparities in the benefits of screening exist between groups. “To date, we’ve seen that the impact of screening on colorectal cancer rates and mortality appear to be consistent across different racial and ethnic groups,” Dr. Chan said. But “additional real-world data will always be welcome.”

26 The Millstone Times

November 2021

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