Health round-up: Sleep and mental health, watching golf is healthy and warning for hay fever and asthma sufferers

Richard Laycock 7 September 2017

Woman looking at tablet while in bed

A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

The effects of sleep on mental health

Sleep problems might be an underlying cause of mental health problems, according to new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

The study looked at more than 3,700 students who suffered from insomnia. These students were split into two groups: those who received online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and those who received no CBT treatment.

The researchers found that those who had access to CBT treatments saw a reduction in paranoia and hallucinations.

Better still, the digital sleep treatment had additional benefits. Those suffering from mental illnesses, especially depression, saw their condition improve.

Other health issues and sleep problems such as anxiety, nightmares and psychological wellbeing all improved.

Watching golf is good for your health

Yes, you read that right. According to researchers from the University of Edinburgh, golf fans are among the fittest of all spectators.

Now, this doesn't count if you're just watching the golf on TV mind you.

The study looked at those attending live golf events and found that spectators averaged roughly 11,500 steps per day.

"Walking is one of the best things you can do for your health, adding years to life, and increasing health and happiness. These pilot findings show that golf spectators can gain physical activity, which could benefit their health, while watching top quality sport at close quarters," said Dr Andrew Murray from the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

It is hoped that these findings will create an awareness of the health benefits of golf.

Hay fever and asthma sufferers put on notice

With summer just around the corner, hay fever and asthma sufferers are being urged to be prepared, after the deadly asthma thunderstorm in Melbourne in November 2016.

“On 21 November there were 10 deaths, more than 30 intensive care admissions from asthma and 4,000 emergency department presentations due to breathing difficulty after a severe thunderstorm," said Queensland University of Technology (QUT) faculty of health expert Professor Janet Davies.

The thunderstorm saw many hay fever suffers present with asthma-like symptoms even if they'd never had asthma before.

Professor Davies is urging those with asthma or hay fever to take preventative measures to ensure their safety.

“Preventative measures include taking antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids to control hay fever, staying indoors on high pollen days, and keeping home and car windows closed,” she said.


What else is happening?

NSW Health is looking into an outbreak of hepatitis A in Sydney, after 12 cases were confirmed in the last five weeks.

Hepatitis A is normally contracted overseas in high-risk countries. However, 10 out of the 12 confirmed cases stated that they had not travelled overseas recently.

"NSW Health is working with the NSW Food Authority to investigate the outbreak, including assessment of patterns of food distribution and any links to overseas outbreaks. However, no specific food has yet been connected to the outbreak,” said Dr Vicky Sheppeard, the director of communicable diseases at NSW Health.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

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