New sleeping pill dangers

February 27, 2012 8:17:04 PM PST
A new study in the British Medical Journal finds that over two years, people who took sleeping pills were at least three and a half times as likely to die of all causes than those who did not take these pills.

"I would rather not be on a nightly pill," said an insomnia sufferer.

"Insomnia just seems to never go away," said another insomnia sufferer.

But the pill itself may not be to blame, the big concern is that sleeping pills may be a quick fix and delay a critical diagnosis.

"The higher death rate seen in people using sleeping pills may well reflect the diseases that they have which bring the insomnia about," Dr. Steven Scharf said.

Insomnia is not a disease; it's usually a symptom of something else like heart disease: fluid backing up in the chest cavity which can wake you up at night.

Diabetes which can make you get up to go to the bathroom can be an early warning sign.

With asthma, breathing difficulties can make rest hard to come by.

Even cancer has hormonal changes and unexplained pain that can keep you up at night.

"When night after night for 2, 3, 4 months or whatever, the patient can't sleep then it's time to go have another a look," Dr. Scharf said.

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