Biorhythms - Body Clock and Illness

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How does the "body clock" affects symptoms of illness?

Among the various biologic rhythm cycles that medical chronobiologists study, the 24-hour day/night-activity/rest cycle is considered a key chronobiologic factor in medical diagnosis and treatment. Formally known as the circadian rhythm, it's also referred to as the "body clock."

Why is the 24-hour body clock so important?

Because so many of our normal body functions follow daily patterns of speeding up and slowing down, intensifying and diminishing, in alignment with circadian rhythm. Interestingly, so do the symptoms of a number of chronic disorders:

Allergic rhinitis: (nasal inflammation associated with hay fever) Symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and stuffy nose are typically worse in the early waking hours than later during the day.

Asthma: In most patients, symptoms are more than 100 times as likely to occur in the few hours prior to awakening than during the day.

Stable angina: Chest pain and electrocardiographic (ECG, EKG) abnormalities are most common during the first 4 to 6 hours after awakening.

Prinzmetal's angina: ECG abnormalities are most common during sleep; chest pain can occur even while at rest.

Heart attack: Heart attack most commonly occurs in the early waking hours.

Stroke: Strokes most commonly occur in the early waking hours.

Hypertension: The highest blood pressure readings typically occur from late morning to middle afternoon; lowest occur during early sleep. Therapy now exists that works with your body clock; consult your physician about this treatment. Clinical studies are underway to further this research.

Rheumatoid arthritis: RA symptoms are most intense upon awakening.

Osteoarthritis: Symptoms of osteoarthritis worsen in the afternoon and evening.

Ulcer disease: The pain typically occurs after stomach emptying, following daytime meals, and in the very early morning, disrupting sleep.

Epilepsy: Seizures often occur only at particular times of the day or night; individual patterns differ among patients.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Anita, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 26

I have severe insomnia. For the past six years before my dad died of cancer (he didn't have a medical aid) I was looking after him. He had changed his day and night and because I had to be with him I also changed my day and night. I got used to staying by him three to four o'clock in the mornings and then take a nap until about 11am to get on with my household chores and taking care of my own family. My doctor prescribed Stilnox MR with Alzam 1 mg after his death but it does not work. As soon as night falls I am alert and my energy levels high even after I have taken the prescribe medicine. Recently my doctor put me on aN antidepressant Wellbutrin SR but this keeps me awake for two days at a time. I have lost over 13 kilos in the past year and am at my wits end. Am I taking the wrong drugs?

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