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Growing Up with Good Sleep

Sleep Studies for Children at Lexington Sleep Solutions

At just nine years old, Hannah Shealy can tell you everything you need to know about having a sleep study. She has six of them under her belt.

“They stick stuff all over me,” she said. “Even my head!”

Hannah Shealy and her mom bed inside Lexington Sleep Solutions’ sleep lab before a sleep study

Hannah was born with a genetic disorder that keeps her face and skull bones from growing normally, which meant her nose and sinus passages tightened as she grew. The older Hannah got, the louder her snoring became—and the more difficult it was to get adequate sleep.

Sleep studies have guided her medical care. For a while, she wore a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask when she slept to keep her airway open.

“The sleep studies tell us how she’s sleeping and what might be wrong. The doctor uses the information to tell us what to do,” said Hannah’s mom Beth. “The studies helped us know when to have surgery and understand how she’s improved since the surgery.”

While good sleep is essential for all of us, it’s particularly important for children.

“It’s a vital function for brain development and well-being,” said Clarence E. Coker III, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at Lexington Sleep Solutions. “When children have adequate sleep, they’re improving the details and retrievability of their memory so they can perform better on tests, socially, in interactions with family and friends, and in sports.”

Dr. Clarence Coker

Dr. Coker said the signs of sleep apnea in children—from toddlers to 18 year olds—shouldn’t be ignored.

“Loud snoring—anything more than a soft snore—should be discussed with your family doctor,” he said.

Sleep walking, sleep terrors or restless sleep also indicate inadequate sleep. Other indicators may not be as obvious. Seizures, ear infections, enlarged tonsils and even attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder warrant a sleep consultation with your doctor.

While sleep apnea in adults frequently coincides with obesity, children with the problem may have trouble growing. “The brain doesn’t slow down and sleep enough to maintain the appropriate growth for their age,” said Dr. Coker.

If your child is having trouble in school, or has trouble waking up or staying awake, talk to a doctor who has a good understanding of sleep.

Hannah had her sleep studies at Lexington Sleep Solutions, Lexington Medical Center’s sleep lab that offers comprehensive care for sleep disorders, and sleep studies to diagnose a variety of sleep-related issues. There are three locations in the Midlands, including one in Northeast Columbia. The practice provides services for children ages three and up.

For each study, Hannah brings along a favorite doll and pillow. After coloring and watching a few cartoons on television in the room, which resembles a comfortable hotel room, Hannah is asleep by about 9:00 p.m., secure with her mother Beth sleeping beside her.

“It’s like a sleepover party,” Beth said to Hannah.

The Importance of Checkups with Your Primary Care Physician

Many adults think a yearly checkup isn’t really necessary, especially when they consider themselves to be healthy, but periodic physical exams should be part of everyone’s health care.

A physical exam can help to determine if you are as healthy as you feel or catch health problems before they become serious. A checkup also helps you and your primary care provider come up with a care plan for a longer, healthier life.

“Annual checkups are a good time to discuss your overall health, diet and family history, which may indicate a need for earlier screenings. A lot of things can change in a year.

People gain and lose weight, go through emotional changes – all of it can affect their health,” said Sarah Cottingham, MD, at Palmetto Family Medicine, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

An annual physical for an adult can include things such as:
− a comprehensive physical exam catered to your age, gender and specific risk factors;
− electrocardiogram to check for heart health;
− examination of respiratory health;
− skin screening to check for dermatological health;
− lab tests, including blood count and cholesterol;
− body mass index testing;
− screenings for age- and gender-appropriate cancer risk factors.

During a child’s annual checkup, a doctor may look at:
− his or her overall growth and development;
− missed immunizations or needed booster shots;
− dental, vision, speech or hearing issues;
− cholesterol, blood count, urine, blood sugar and/or scoliosis results.

“An annual physical isn’t just getting a full-body exam. You may need labs tests, vaccinations and cancer screenings, which depend on age and risk factors. Even if you eat well and exercise, you could still have high cholesterol or be at risk for developing diabetes. We can’t know if you have these conditions if we aren’t checking for them,” said Dr. Cottingham.

Apart from cancer and other screenings, such as diabetes and heart disease, a physical exam helps patients answer questions about their health and lifestyle, and get advice on how to lead the healthiest lifestyle possible.

It’s also an opportunity to tell your doctor about any medical conditions or diseases within your family. Certain diseases and medical conditions can be hereditary, and families can pass on lifestyle habits. People who live, play and eat together influence each other’s attitudes toward smoking, exercise, weight and many other factors that influence your health.

For Dr. Cottingham, annual checkups are a great way to help her patients have good quality of life along with quantity of life.

“If we can catch high cholesterol and elevated blood sugars early and make lifestyle changes or treat with medicine, we can significantly decrease the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more.”

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Columbia, SC 29229
(803) 256-2286

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Everyday Hero: Natalie Copeland

When doctors diagnosed Natalie Copeland, manager of Lexington Medical Center’s Cancer Registry, with type 2 diabetes, she quickly got to work learning how to best manage the disease.

“I attended the nutrition consultation and education program at LMC when I was first diagnosed, and I made great progress,” said Natalie.

Eventually, though, she forgot some of what she had learned and started “cheating” on her new lifestyle. Her struggle to get back on track led her to start D2 & Me, a free support and wellness group for people with type 2 diabetes.

Natalie Copeland

“I couldn’t find a support group in the area. So, when hospital dietitian Laura Stepp suggested that I consider starting a group, I decided to give it a go. LMC has been very supportive of my efforts. I could not do half of what I do without the help of the Marketing department, the certified diabetes educators at LMC and Lexington Endocrinology, and Laura.”

D2 & Me isn’t just for people with type 2 diabetes; it’s also for their caregivers. At each meeting, attendees learn ways to improve their quality of life with diabetes. Health care professionals including endocrinologists, diabetes educators and nurses cover a variety of topics, such as carbohydrate counting, diabetic complications, medications and interactions, and diabetic emergencies, as well as conduct grocery store tours. 

“My absolute favorite part of D2 & Me is knowing that I have helped someone. It brings me such joy to hear participants say that a meeting has been valuable to them or that they have made better life choices since they’ve started coming to D2 & Me meetings,” she said.

In addition to educating those with type 2 diabetes and their caregivers, members of D2 & Me encourage and uplift each other. They share in successes and failures.

“You can make a difference in someone’s life simply by taking some of the burden off his or her shoulders and sharing in his or her struggles. The older I get, the more important this work becomes to me. I want to make a difference; I want to hear ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’”  

And so, Natalie isn’t slowing down her efforts to help others. This month, the D2 & Me Diabetic Food Pantry, a collaborative program with Harvest Hope Food Bank and the American Diabetes Association’s Columbia chapter, opens. Natalie hopes to expand this program to all Harvest Hope Food Bank agencies in South Carolina. She also plans to bring D2 & Me meetings to Northeast Columbia and create a program to help diabetics afford costly medications.

“The experiences and knowledge I’ve gained since beginning D2 & Me has been unimaginable. I’m excited to see the growth of D2 & Me, and it feels so good to help others.”