Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy

One in 2000 people are affected by Narcolepsy and its impact can be significant, even disabling.

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder defined by constant sleepiness and the tendency to fall asleep at inappropriate times. When unrecognized or left untreated, one’s quality of life may be drastically and negatively affected.

The four most common symptoms are:

excessive daytime sleepiness

cataplexy (sudden loss of control or strength in the muscles)

sleep paralysis

hypnagogic hallucinations (hallucinations that occur just before falling asleep, during naps and / or on waking up).

The symptoms can appear all at once or develop gradually over many years.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned here and feel they are affecting your ability to drive, work, participate in school, perform normal daily activities, or if they are interfering with social activities and personal relationships, it is important to see a healthcare professional.

The first step to diagnosing this disorder is an evaluation by your healthcare professional to rule out medical illness as a cause. The next step is usually a visit to a sleep specialist. If narcolepsy is suspected, you might be asked to undergo testing in a sleep facility. Two tests, a polysomnogram and a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), will be performed to confirm narcolepsy and determine its severity. The combination of these two test results, as well as your symptoms will help the sleep specialist determine whether narcolepsy is an appropriate diagnose.

Although narcolepsy cannot yet be cured, its symptoms can usually be controlled or improved so you can live a normal life. The treatment plan will likely include several parts: medication, behavior treatment, and managing your environment.

 

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