People who suffer from narcolepsy often find it difficult to stay awake most of the day. The exact cause of this sleep disorder is still unknown. However, studies have shown some abnormal signaling in the brain and some genetic factors behind the disease.
What is Narcolepsy?
Chronic sleep disorders with sudden sleep attacks and daytime sleepiness are known as narcolepsy. It can cause serious disruption to your daily life. People with narcolepsy find it difficult to stay up for long periods of time, regardless of the situation. There is also a sudden loss of muscle tone with narcolepsy. This is called an atonic seizure and can be caused by strong emotions. Narcolepsy that occurs with an atonic seizure is known as type 1 narcolepsy, while narcolepsy that occurs without an atonic seizure is called type 2 narcolepsy.
Unfortunately, this sleep disorder does not yet have a permanent cure. The normal process of falling asleep begins with what is known as NREM (non-rapid sleep) sleep. During non-rem sleep, brain waves slow down considerably. After about an hour of non-REM sleep, brain activity changes and REM sleep begins. Most dreams occur during REM sleep.
However, with narcolepsy, you can suddenly go into REM sleep, both at night and during the day, without first experiencing non-REM sleep.
what is it this is Causes and symptoms?
A neurochemical substance named hypocretin regulates the pattern in which we fall asleep and wake up. People with narcolepsy may have deficient levels of hypocretin, which may be the reason behind this disorder. At times, genetic problems can also be seen as the reason behind the disease. Some of the important symptoms of this disease are
- Go to sleep anytime, anywhere without warning
- Slurred speech or most body muscles are completely weakened for a few minutes
- Sleep paralysis for a few minutes
- REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep allows individuals to begin dreaming within 15 minutes of falling asleep, even during the day.
When should I see a doctor?
If you experience these symptoms and this chronic sleep disorder disrupts your personal or social life, you should see a doctor. Your doctor will help you diagnose your condition and suggest ways to improve it.
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What are the risk factors and complications of narcolepsy?
If you have a family member with narcolepsy, your chances of developing this sleep disorder are increased by 40%. Narcolepsy usually begins at the age of 10-30. Therefore, there is an increased risk of this disease in this age group. Some of the serious complications of narcolepsy
- You may be seriously misunderstood in your area of expertise. For example, people don’t know much about narcolepsy, so if you fall asleep continuously at school or at work, people may consider you lazy and bother you mentally and emotionally.
- People with narcolepsy generally have a low metabolic rate. As a result, you may be at increased risk of developing excessive weight and obesity.
- Excessive narcolepsy can also cause atonic seizures, which intervene in people’s emotional reactions and thus affect their intimate relationships.
- People with narcolepsy are at increased risk of physical injury. For example, a sleep attack while driving a car or preparing a meal can cause an accident.
What are the treatment options for narcolepsy?
There is no permanent cure for this condition, but the following treatment options can improve the symptoms.
- Central nervous system stimulants can help people get up during the day if they have narcolepsy. Drugs such as armodafinil, modafinil, snoshi, and pitrisant are stimulants that can help with the disease. They are non-addictive and can also help with nausea, anxiety and headaches. Some people need treatment with methylphenidate (or various amphetamines).
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are also the standard treatment option for narcolepsy. It suppresses REM sleep and prevents sleep paralysis, hallucinations and atonic seizures.
- Tricyclic antidepressants are also suitable for helping people with narcolepsy cope with the symptoms of atonic seizures. The above drugs can cause side effects such as lightheadedness and dry mouth.
- Oxybate sodium improves people’s nighttime sleep patterns, but at high doses it can also help with daytime sleep problems and catalepsy.
- Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, or alcohol before going to bed. You can wake up at night and get sleepy all day long. Instead, it’s a good idea to take a warm bath, read a book, or do something more relaxing before going to bed.Regular exercise also helps you sleep at night
Narcolepsy has no cure yet, so lifestyle changes and medications are the only way to treat the disease. These drugs may control the symptoms of narcolepsy. However, if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, you should contact your doctor before taking these medications.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do doctors diagnose narcolepsy?
Answer: Check the patient’s detailed sleep history, obtain sleep records, and perform polysomnography. A multisleep latency test may also be done to determine how long it takes a person to fall asleep during the day.
Is narcolepsy considered a disability?
Answer: No, narcolepsy is not considered a disability.