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Narcolepsy Symptoms And Treatment

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Narcolepsy Symptoms And Treatment

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder which causes excessive drowsiness and sleeping episodes, all of the sudden and of short period. Narcolepsy appears even if the patient is well rested at night, thus the inability of the patient to lead a normal life. Sleeping while the patient is involved in certain activities, while driving or at work can cause disasters. REM sleep intrudes into wakefulness and into the transition from wakefulness to sleep. Many symptoms of narcolepsy result from postural muscle paralysis and vivid dreaming, which characterize REM.

Narcolepsy

Symptoms:

  • Uncontrollable sleep attacks during daytime – Sleep episodes vary from few to many per day.  Sleep tends to occur during easy activities (eg, reading, watching television, attending meetings) but may also occur during complex tasks (e.g., driving, speaking, writing, eating). Patients may also experience sleep attacks”episodes of sleep that strike without warning. Patients may feel refreshed when they awaken yet fall asleep again in a few minutes;
  • Excessive drowsiness ;
  • Sudden loss of muscular control – cataplexy – Temporary muscular weakness without loss of consciousness; it is provoked by sudden emotions: anger, fear, joy or surprise. Weakness is confined to the limbs. These attacks resemble the loss of muscle tone that occurs during REM sleep;
  • Hallucinations – Vivid auditory or visual hallucinations may occur when just falling asleep (hypnagogic) or immediately after awakening (hypnopompic). They are difficult to distinguish and are somewhat similar to vivid dreams, which are normal in REM sleep;
  • Hypersomnia during nocturnal sleep.

These symptoms first appear between 10-25 years although it is not uncommon for narcolepsy to strike at any age. But rarely does it strike after 50. There are some reported cases where 3 – year olds were diagnosed with narcolepsy.

Treatment:

Modafinil, stimulants, Na oxybate, Antidepressants

Narcolepsy does not have a current cure. Sleep episodes and cataplexy, can be controlled in most patients with drug treatment. It is easier, in some cases,to treat the symptoms and not the disease as a whole. Two classes of antidepressant drugs have proved effective in controlling cataplexy in many patients: tricyclics (including imipramine, desipramine, clomipramine, and protriptyline) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (including fluoxetine and sertraline). In general, antidepressants produce fewer adverse effects than do amphetamines. But troublesome side effects still occur in some patients, including impotence, high blood pressure, and heart rhythm irregularities.