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Category: Liver Diseases
For individuals who have received liver panel tests indicating they have cirrhosis, daytime sleepiness is a common symptom. Now, a new study has found that this problem may be caused by high levels of ammonia in the blood, which interferes with a person's ability to get normal, restorative sleep at night.
A team of Italian and Swiss researchers measured ammonia blood levels in 10 patients with cirrhosis and 10 individuals with normal liver function over a period of eight days. Participants' sleep patterns were also monitored.
The results showed that individuals who had higher levels ammonia in their blood throughout the study were less likely to get the kind of deep, restorative sleep that a person needs at night. This made these individuals more likely to feel sleepy during the day.
The researchers said that their findings are significant because they indicate that sleepiness may be used as indicator of other potentially serious neurological problems that are common in cirrhosis patients.
Hepatic encephalopathy is a general worsening of cognitive function that is common to liver disease patients. It is caused by the liver's inability to clear toxins like ammonia from the system. Sleepiness may serve as an early warning sign of this problem.
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