Narcolepsy

A sleep disorder that will cause severe daytime sleepiness and will be overwhelming is narcolepsy. This type of disorder will be recognized by the repeated pathologic sleepiness that will occur during the day in inappropriate places and times. These situations can happen daily, with or without any warning, with a maximum of five episodes per day.

Patients that suffer from this kind of illness will be the ones that will have bad sleeping patterns and non restorative sleep during nighttime, in some cases with awakenings during the night and the impossibility to get back to sleep.

There are four main symptoms that will occur if a person will suffer from narcolepsy: cataplexy, that will be temporary or sudden loss of the tone in muscles that can be triggered from several emotions for example laughter, an excessive daytime exhaustion and need of sleep, some patients could suffer from hallucinations, that will be some vivid dreamlike experiences that can happen upon awakening or while falling asleep, and sleep paralysis, when a person is unable to move for several minutes when falling asleep or when waking up.

The latter symptoms will happen in only 30% of patients, making the first two symptoms the primary means of concern when happening. Studies have shown that only 15% will suffer from all four symptoms and 70% of patients will have a combination of all four. In many cases, narcolepsy could go untraced for years, having up to ten years of delay between the onset of the illness up to the diagnosis.

Almost 50% of adult patients that suffer from narcolepsy report that they have had the symptoms since childhood and for the majority of the patients’ narcolepsy could begin between the ages of 16 to 35 years, statistics showing that only 6% of children younger then ten years old will suffer from such a condition.

This type of illness will lead in time to an impairment of academic performance and social conditions in comparison to the normal patterns of growth in a person with normal intellectual background but at the very same time when discovered and diagnosed, narcolepsy could be treated.

The best treatment for it is a combination of effective medications, good hygiene of sleep, scheduled naps during the day and a normal sleeping pattern during the night. Such an illness is believed that will result from a genetic predisposition and an abnormal sensitivity and neurotransmitter functioning.

The genetic predisposition has been described as up to 10 cases out of 100 having inherited such a condition from parents. In discussing treatment for narcolepsy, a good sleep hygiene will always prove to be beneficial in any sleep related disorder and having a improvement in the a person’s life style and sleep patterns will lead, in time, to an elimination of any underlining symptoms that a person could present.

For persons that will suffer from this condition and in spite of a very good sleep hygiene, scheduled naps are required in a combination with some medical drugs that the doctor will prescribe.

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