Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes excessive sleepiness and frequent daytime sleep attacks.

The most common symptoms of narcolepsy are:
  • Periods of extreme drowsiness every 3 to 4 hours during the day. You may feel a strong urge to sleep, often followed by a short nap (sleep attack).
    • These periods last for about 15 minutes each, although they can be longer.
    • They often happen after eating, but may occur while driving, talking to someone, or during other situations.
    • You wake up feeling refreshed.
  • Dream-like hallucinations may occur during the stage between sleep and wakefulness. They involve seeing or hearing, and possibly other senses.
  • Sleep paralysis is when you are unable to move when you first wake up. It may also happen when you first become drowsy.
  • Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle tone while awake, resulting in the inability to move. Strong emotions, such as laughter or anger, will often bring on cataplexy.
    • Most attacks last for less than 30 seconds and can be missed.
    • Your head will suddenly fall forward, your jaw will become slack, and your knees will buckle.
    • In severe cases, a person may fall and stay paralyzed for as long as several minutes.
Not all patients have all four symptoms.

There is no known cure for narcolepsy. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms.
Lifestyle adjustments and learning to cope with the emotional and other effects of the disorder may help you function better in work and social activities. This involves:
  • Eating light or vegetarian meals during the day and avoiding heavy meals before important activities
  • Scheduling a brief nap (10 to 15 minutes) after meals, if possible
  • Planning naps to control daytime sleep and reduce the number of unplanned, sudden sleep attacks
  • Informing teachers and supervisors about the condition so you are not punished for being "lazy" at school or work
You may need to take prescription medications. The stimulant drug modafinil (Provigil) is the first choice of treatment for narcolepsy. It is much less likely to be abused than other stimulants. The medicine also helps you stay awake. Other stimulants includedextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, DextroStat) and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Antidepressant medications can help reduce episodes of cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations. Antidepressants include:
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, and venlafaxine
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as protriptyline clomipramine, imipramine, and desipramine
Sodium oxybate (Xyrem) is prescribed to certain patients for use at night.
If you have narcolepsy, you may have driving restrictions. Restrictions vary from state to state.

No comments:

Post a Comment