The preferred treatments for people with chronic insomnia are lifestyle changes and behavioral approaches that establish healthy sleeping habits.
Mind-body therapies, such as stimulus control therapy, bright light therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and cognitive behavioral therapy, are particularly helpful.
Acupuncture and acupressure have a long tradition of treating insomnia successfully, particularly in the elderly. Vitamins, along with homeopathic and herbal remedies, may also improve symptoms in some individuals. If you are taking medications to treat insomnia, additional natural remedies may interfere with your medications, and in some cases, may result in dangerous interactions.
Healthy sleep habits are essential for treating insomnia. The following strategies may help treat the condition:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule (wake up and go to bed at the same time, even on weekends).
- Establish the bedroom as a place for soothing activities, sleep and sexual activity; not for watching television or working.
- Avoid afternoon naps.
- Take a hot bath about 2 hours before bedtime.
- Keep the bedroom cool, well ventilated, quiet, and dark.
- Avoid looking at the clock, which may cause anxiety and obsession about time.
- Avoid fluids just before bedtime.
- Avoid exercising just before bedtime.
- Avoid television just before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine in the later hours of the day.
- Eat a carbohydrate snack, such as cereal or crackers, before bedtime.
- Move to another room with dim lighting if sleep does not occur after spending 15 to 20 minutes in bed.
If changes in sleep hygiene do not help, prescription medications, including benzodiazepines, may be appropriate. Benzodiazepines include temazepam (Restoril), flurazepam (Dalmane), estazolam (ProSom), and triazolam (Halcion). Benzodiazepines may cause psychological and physical dependence. Physical withdrawal symptoms may occur if the drug is not carefully tapered following long-term use. Most common side effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness, impaired coordination, fatigue, confusion and disorientation, dizziness, decreased concentration, short-term memory problems, dry mouth, blurred vision, and irregular heartbeat.
Another class of sedative hypnotic medications includes the nonbenzodiazepine, benzodiazepine receptor agonists. These newer medications appear to have better safety profiles and fewer adverse effects than benzodiazepines. They are also associated with a lower risk of abuse and dependence than the benzodiazepines. Examples of medications in this class include zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), and eszopiclone (Lunesta).
Ramelteon (Rozerem) belongs to a new class of drugs called melatonin agonists. Ramelteon promotes the onset of sleep by increasing levels of the natural hormone melatonin, which helps normalize circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycles. Side effects may include daytime sleepiness, dizziness, and fatigue.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines may be used short term for insomnia. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is the most commonly used OTC antihistamine sleep aid, and can be purchased alone (Benadryl, Nytol, Sominex) or in combination with other OTC items, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol PM). Diphenhydramine can cause sedation, dry mouth, and constipation. In the elderly, diphenhydramine can cause confusion and over-sedation. DO NOT combine OTC remedies with your prescription sleep aids.
Generally, OTC and prescription medications help promote sleep, but they are not recommended for insomnia that lasts more than 4 weeks. Long-term use of some medications may cause addiction, particularly if the person has a history of substance abuse.
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
- Eliminate all potential food allergens, including dairy, wheat (gluten), soy, corn, preservatives, and food additives. Your health care provider may want to test for food sensitivities.
- Eat more antioxidant-rich foods (such as green leafy vegetables) and fruits (such as blueberries, pomegranates, and cherries).
- Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.
- Eat lean meats, cold-water fish, or beans for protein.
- Avoid coffee and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of filtered water daily.
- Exercise 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week. Aim to finish exercising by about 7 p.m., as exercising after dinner may lead to insomnia.
- Foods rich in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat may boost the production of serotonin and melatonin, brain chemicals that are associated with sleep. A carbohydrate snack of granola, unsweetened cereals, or crackers with milk before bed may help.
The following dietary supplements may also be helpful in promoting sleep:
- A multivitamin daily, containing the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, the B-complex vitamins, and trace minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and selenium.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, to help decrease inflammation and help with mental balance. Fish oil supplements can increase the blood-thinning effect of many medications, so it is important to speak with your doctor before taking supplements.
- 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), for mood stabilization and sleep improvement. See below for serious cautions and contraindications.
- L-theanine, for nervous system support.
- Melatonin, for sleep and immune protection. Ask your health care provider about potential prescription interactions.
- Drink a glass of tart cherry juice each day. Studies have shown that tart cherry juice can increase melatonin levels and lead to more and better sleep.
L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
Medical research indicates that taking 1 g L-tryptophan before bedtime can induce sleepiness and delay wake times. Researchers think L-tryptophan brings on sleep by raising levels of serotonin, a body chemical that promotes relaxation. However, consumers should take this supplement with caution as it may adversely interact with certain antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and others, and cause serious negative side effects. Serotonin Syndrome, for example, can be fatal. Reports of eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS: an autoimmune disorder characterized by fatigue, fever, muscle pain and tenderness, cramps, weakness, hardened skin, and burning, tingling sensations in the extremities) from contaminated L-tryptophan supplements surfaced in 1989, and isolated incidents of EMS continue to be reported.
Studies also suggest that 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), made from tryptophan in the body or available in supplement form, may be useful in treating insomnia associated with depression. 5-HTP has an even greater potential for negatively interacting with antidepressant and other psychiatric medications (see L-tryptophan above). Like tryptophan, reports of EMS have been associated with use of 5-hydroxytryptophan. Talk to a health care professional before taking 5-HTP supplements if you are on antidepressant medications. Serious drug interactions may occur.
Melatonin supplements help induce sleep, particularly in people who have disrupted circadian rhythms (such as from jet lag or shift work), or those with low levels of melatonin (such as some people with schizophrenia). In fact, a review of scientific studies found that melatonin supplements helped prevent jet lag, particularly in people who cross 5 or more time zones. A few clinical studies suggest that melatonin is significantly more effective than placebo, or dummy pill, in decreasing the amount of time required to fall asleep, increasing the number of sleeping hours, and boosting daytime alertness. Although research suggests that melatonin may be modestly effective for treating certain types of insomnia, few studies have investigated whether melatonin supplements are safe and effective long term. People being treated for high blood pressure or diabetes, or who have a history of seizures, should speak to their doctors before taking melatonin. Melatonin may interact negatively with certain medications, particularly sedating medications and antidepressants. More research is needed. Speak with your doctor.
As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider before starting treatment with herbs. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, or teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted:
- Kava kava (Piper methysticum) standardized extract, as needed for relaxation. Kava should not be used in those with liver problems or those drinking alcohol in excessive quantities. Kava kava can potentially interact with many medications, including those used to treat Parkinsons Disease, and sedative and psychiatric medications. Talk to your health care provider.
- Valerian (Valeriana sp.) standardized extract at bedtime, for sleep. Valerian can interact with sedative and psychiatric medications. Talk to your provider.
- Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), standardized extract, for relaxation. A tea may be prepared from chamomile flowers. Chamomile is not recommended for individuals allergic to flowers in the daisy family.
Few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies, however, a professional homeopath may recommend one or more of the following treatments for insomnia, based on their knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type, includes your physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual.
- Aconitum. For insomnia that occurs as a result of illness, fever, or vivid, frightening dreams commonly used for children.
- Argentum nitricum. For impulsive children who are restless and agitated before bedtime and cannot fall asleep if the room is too warm.
- Arsenicum album. For insomnia that occurs after midnight due to anxiety or fear. This remedy is most appropriate for demanding individuals who are often restless, thirsty, and chilly.
- Chamomilla. For insomnia caused by irritability or physical pains sleep may be disturbed by twitching and moaning. This remedy is appropriate for infants who have difficulty sleeping because they are teething or colicky, and older children who may demand things, then refuse them when they are offered.
- Coffea. For insomnia due to excitable news or sudden emotions. This remedy is most appropriate for individuals who generally have difficulty falling asleep and tend to be light sleepers. Often used to counteract the effects of caffeine, including in infants exposed to caffeine through breastfeeding.
- Ignatia. For insomnia caused by grief or recent loss. This remedy is most appropriate for individuals who yawn frequently or sigh while awake.
- Kali phosphoricum. For night terrors associated with insomnia. This remedy is most appropriate for individuals who are easily startled and restless, often with fidgety feet. Anxiety is often caused by both nightmares and events in the individual's life.
- Nux vomica. For insomnia caused by anxiety, anger, irritability, or use of caffeine, alcohol, or drugs. This remedy is most appropriate for individuals who wake up early in the morning, or for children who often have dreams of school or fights and may be awakened by slight disturbances. Nux vomica may also be used to treat insomnia that occurs as a side effect of medications.
- Passiflora. For the elderly and young children with often overactive minds.
- Pulsatilla. For women and children who are particularly emotional and do not like sleeping alone. Also used when sleeping in a warm room tends to worsen insomnia or when the individual may cry due to the inability to fall asleep.
- Rhus toxicodendron. For restlessness and insomnia caused by pains that occur when the individual is lying down.
Some reports suggest that certain acupuncture procedures have a nearly 90% success rate for the treatment of insomnia. Through a complex series of signals to the brain, acupuncture increases the amount of certain substances in the brain, such as serotonin, which promote relaxation and sleep.
Several clinical studies have found that auricular acupuncture, using needles placed at various point in the ear, is effective in reducing symptoms of insomnia, such as difficultly in falling asleep and remaining asleep. More research is needed.
Clinical studies of elderly people with sleep disturbances suggest that acupressure enhances sleep quality and decreases awakenings during the night. An acupressure practitioner works with the same points used in acupuncture, but stimulates these healing sites with finger pressure, rather than inserting fine needles. Clinical studies support the use of auricular (ear) acupressure for improving sleep quality in elderly people and possibly in healthy adults of all ages. A small clinical study also found that acupressure may help with sleep apnea.
Chiropractors report that spinal manipulation may improve symptoms of the condition in some individuals. In these cases, spinal manipulation may have a relaxing effect on the nervous system.
Massage and Aromatherapy
Massage has long been known to enhance relaxation and improve sleep patterns. While massage alone is an effective method for relaxation, studies suggest that massage with essential oils (called aromatherapy), particularly lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, increased mental capacity, and reduced anxiety. Clinical studies have found participants who received massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than participants who received massage alone.
A variety of behavioral techniques have proved helpful in treating insomnia. These methods, with the guidance of a sleep specialist or a sleep specialty team, are singly used to treat insomnia, but they may also be combined with other treatment methods including:
- Sleep Diary. Keeping a daily/nightly record of sleep habits (including the amount of sleep, how long it takes to fall asleep, the quality of sleep, the number of awakenings throughout the night, any disruption of daytime behaviors, attempted treatments and how well they worked, mood, and stress level) can help a person understand and consequently overcome insomnia.
- Stimulus Control Techniques. This approach involves learning to use the bedroom only for sleep and sexual activity. Individuals using this technique learn to go to bed only when they are tired and leave the bedroom when they are not sleeping. They wake up at the same time every day, including weekends and vacations, regardless of the amount of sleep they had.
- Sleep Restriction. This method improves sleep "efficiency" by attempting to spend at least 85% of time in bed asleep. The time spent in bed is decreased each week by 15 to 20 minutes until the 85% goal is achieved. Once accomplished, the amount of time in bed is increased again on a weekly basis.
- Relaxation Training Techniques. Progressive relaxation, meditation, yoga, guided imagery, hypnosis, mindfulness-based stress reduction, or biofeedback can break the vicious cycle of sleeplessness by decreasing feelings of anxiety about not being asleep. Studies indicate that these therapies significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increase total sleep time, and decrease the number of nightly awakenings.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This therapy is intended to re-establish healthy sleep patterns by helping an individual cope with their sleep problem. One cognitive behavioral approach, called paradoxical intention, helps to retrain an individual's fears of sleep by doing the opposite of the behavior that causes anxiety. Long before going to bed, for example, a person with insomnia worries about not being able to sleep and the difficulty they will have at bedtime. Rather than preparing to go to sleep, the person prepares to stay awake. Another cognitive behavioral technique, called thought stopping, allows a person with insomnia a certain period of time to repeatedly and continuously think about going to bed. This technique helps "wear out" the anxiety associated with going to bed, and decreases the likelihood that they will obsess about falling asleep at other times.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Many methods have been used historically in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat insomnia, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, acupressure, Chinese massage (tui na), and qi gong.
Altun A, Ugur-Altun B. Melatonin: therapeutic and clinical utilization. Int J Clin Pract. 2007;61(5):835-45.
Arnedt JT, Conroy DA, Armitage R, Brower KJ. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia in alcohol dependent patients: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Behav Res Ther. 2011;49(4):227-33.
Atkinson G, Davenne D. Relationships between sleep, physical activity and human health. Physiol Behav. 2007;90(2-3):229-35.
Attele AS, Xie JT, Yuan CS. Treatment of insomnia: an alternative approach. Altern Med Rev. 2000;5(3):249-59.
Baddeley JL, Gros DF. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia as a preparatory treatment for exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder. Am J Psycother. 2013;67(2):203-14.
Barclay NL, Gehrman PR, Gregory AM, Eaves LJ, Silberg JL. The heritability of insomnia progression during childhood/adolescence: results from a longitudinal study. Sleep. 2015;38(1):109-18.
Barion A, Zee PC. A clinical approach to circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Sleep Med. 2007;8(6):566-77.
Beghe C. Review: behaviour therapy is effective for insomnia. Evid Based Med. 2006;11(5):147.
Buysse DJ, Germain A, Moul DE, Franzen PL, Brar LK, Fletcher ME, Begley A, Houck PR, Mazumdar S, Reynolds CF 3rd, Monk TH. Efficacy of brief behavioral treatment for chronic insomnia in older adults. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(10):887-95.
Chasens ER. Understanding sleep in persons with diabetes. Diabetes Educ. 2007;33(3):435-6, 438, 441.
Chen HY, Shi Y, Ng CS, Chan SM, Yung KK, Zhang QL. Auricular acupuncture treatment for insomnia: a systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. 2007;13(6):669-76.
Chen YF, Liu JH, Xu NG, et al. Effects of acupuncture treatment on depression insomnia: a study protocol of multicenter randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2013;14(2).
Dolder C, Nelson M, McKinsey J. Use of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics in the elderly: are all agents the same? CNS Drugs. 2007;21(5):389-405.
Dyken M, Afifi A, Lin-Dyken D. Sleep-Related Problems in Neurologic Diseases. Chest. 2012;141(2).
Epstein DR, Dirksen SR. Randomized trial of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for insomnia in breast cancer survivors. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2007;34(5):E51-9.
Gellis LA, Arigo D, Elliott JC. Cognitive refocusing treatment for insomnia: a randomized controlled trial in university students. Behav Ther. 2013;44(1):100-10.
Goto V, Frange C, Andersen ML, Junior JM, Tufik S, Hachul H. Chiropractic internvention in the treatment of postmenopausal climacteric symptoms and insomnia: A review. Maturitas. 2014;78(1):3-7.
Gross CR, Kreitzer MJ, Reilly-Spong M, et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction versus pharmacotherapy for chronic primary insomnia: a radomized, controlled clinical trial. Explore (NY). 2011;7(2):76-87.
Harrington JJ, Avidan AY. Treatment of sleep disorders in elderly patients. Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2005;7(5):339-52.
Harsora P, Kessmann J. Nonpharmacologic Management of Chronic Insomnia. American Fam Phys. 2009;79(2).
Herxheimer A, Petrie KJ. Melatonin for preventing and treating jet lag. Cocharane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(1):CD001520.
Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2011. [Epub ahead of print].
Huang W, Kutner N, Bliwise DL. Autonomic activation in insomnia: the case for acupuncture. [Review]. J Clin Sleep Med. 2011;7(1):95-102.
Jungquist CR, O'Brien C, Matteson-Rusby S, Smith MT, Pigeon WR, Xia Y, Lu N, Perlis ML. The efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia in patients with chronic pain. Sleep Med. 2010;11(3):302-9.
Kalavapalli R, Singareddy R. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of insomnia: a comprehensive review. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2007;13(3):184-93.
Krystal AD. Treating the health, quality of life, and functional impairments in insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med. 2007;3(1):63-72.
Krystal A. The changing perspective of chronic insomnia management. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65 Suppl 8:20-5.
Li LF, Lu JH. Clinical observation on acupuncture treatment of intractable insomnia. J Tradit Chin Med. 2010;30(1):21-2.
Mai E, Buyesse D. Insomnia: Prevalence, Impact, Pathogenesis, Differential Diagnosis, and Evaluation. Sleep Medicine Clinics. 2008;3(2).
Mansel JK, Carey EC. Nonpharmacologic approach to sleep disorders. Cancer J. 2014;20(5):345-51.
McCrae C, Dzierzewski J, Kay D. Treatment of Late-Life Insomnia. Sleep Medicine Clinics. 2009;4(4).
McCurry SM, Logsdon RG, Teri L, Vitiello MV. Evidence-based psychological treatments for insomnia in older adults. Psychol Aging. 2007;22(1):18-27.
Morin CM, Belleville G, Belanger L, Ivers H. The Insomnia Severity Index: psychometric indicators to detect insomnia cases and evaluate treatment response. Sleep. 2011;34(5):601-8.
Morgan K, Gregory P, Tomeny M, David BM, Gascoigne C. Self-help treatment for insomnia symptoms associated with chronic conditions in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012;60(10):1803-10.
Naudé DF, Stephanie Couchman IM, Maharaj A. Chronic primary insomnia: efficacy of homeopathic simillimum. Homeopathy. 2010;99(1):63-8. Erratum in: Homeopathy. 2010;99(2):151.
Nguyen XL, Rakotonanahary D, Chaskalovic J, Fleury B. Insomnia related to sleep apnoea: effect of long-term auto-adjusting positive airway pressure treatment. Eur Respir J. 2013;41(3):593-600.
Ohayon M. Observation of the Natural Evolution of Insomnia in the American General Population Cohort. Sleep Medicine Clinics. 2009;4(1).
Paine S, Gradisar M. A randomised controlled trial of cognitive-behaviour therapy for behavioural insomnia of childhood in school-aged children. Behav Res Ther. 2011;49(6-7):379-88. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2011.03.008.
Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, Perlis ML. Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2010;13(3):579-83.
Ramakrishnan K, Scheid DC. Treatment options for insomnia. Am Fam Physician. 2007;76(4):517-26.
Reynolds CF III, Serody L, Okun ML, et al. Protecting sleep, promoting health in later life: a rondomized clinical trial. Psychosom Med. 2010;72(2):178-86.
Ringdahl E, Pereira S, Delzell J. Treatment of primary insomnia. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2004;17:212-9.
Roth T, Toehrs T. Efficacy and Safety of Sleep-Promoting Agents. Sleep Medicine Clinics. 2008;3(2).
Shamir E, Laudon M, Barak Y, Anis Y, Rotenberg V, Elizur A, Zisapel N. Melatonin improves sleep quality of patients with chronic schizophrenia. J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;61(5):373-7.
Sunnhed R, Jansson-Frojmark M. Are changes in worry associated with treatment response in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia? Cogn Behav Ther. 2014;43(1):1-11.
Ulmer CS, Edinger JD, Calhoun PS. A multi-component cognitive-behavioral intervention for sleep disturbance in veterans with PTSD: a pilot study. J Clin Sleep Med. 2011;7(1):57-68.
Vandermeer BW, Buscemi N, Liang Y, Witmans M. Comparison of meta-analytic results of indirect, direct, and combined comparisons of drugs for chronic insomnia in adults: a case study. Med Care. 2007;45(10 Supl 2):S166-72.
Wade AG, Ford I, Crawford G, et al. Efficacy of prolonged release melatonin in insomnia patients aged 55-80 years: quality of sleep and next-day alertness outcomes. Curr Med Res Opin. 2007;23(10):2597-605.
Wade AG, Crawford G, Ford I, McConnachie A, Nir T, Laudon M, Zisapel N. Prolonged release melatonin in the treatment of primary insomnia: evaluation of the age cut-off for short- and long-term response. Curr Med Res Opin. 2011;27(1):87-98.
Wade AG, Ford I, Crawford G, McConnachie A, Nir T, Laudon M, Zisapel N. Nightly treatment of primary insomnia with prolonged release melatonin for 6 months: a randomized placebo controlled trial on age and endogenous melatonin as predictors of efficacy and safety. BMC Med. 2010;8:51.
Walsh JK, Krystal AD, Amato DA, et al. Nightly treatment of primary insomnia with eszopiclone for six months: effect on sleep, quality of life, and work limitations. Sleep. 2007;30(8):959-68.
Williams J, Roth A, Vatthauer K, McCrae C. Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Insomnia. Chest. 2013;143(2).
Wolkove N, Elkholy O, Baltzan M, Palayew M. Sleep and aging: 2. Management of sleep disorders in older people. CMAJ. 2007;176(10):1449-54.
Wu Y, Zou C, Liu X, Wu X, Lin Q. Auricular acupressure helps improve sleep quality for severe insomnia in maintenance hemodialysis patients: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(5):356-63.
Yeung WF, Chung KF, Tso KC, et al. Electroacupuncture for residual insomnia associated with major depressive disorder: a randomized, controlled trial. Sleep. 2011;34(6):807-15.
Zammit G, Erman M, Wang-Weigand S, Sainati S, Zhang J, Roth T. Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of ramelteon in subjects with chronic insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med. 2007;3(5):495-504.
Zhang YF, Ren GF, Zhang XC. Acupuncture plus cupping for treating insomnia in college students. J Tradit Chin Med. 2010;30(3):185-9.
Zhou XZ, Zhang RS, Shah J, Rajgor D, Wang YH, Pietrobon R, Liu BY, Chen J, Zhu JG, Gao RL. Patterns of herbal combination for the treatment of insomnia commonly employed by highly experienced Chinese medicine physicians. Chin J Integr Med. 2011;17(9):655-62.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.