Health

What is Narcolepsy?

5 Mins read

The nature of the problem, what causes it, and how it may be controlled are discussed.

In spite of its prevalence, narcolepsy remains largely misunderstood. It’s characterised by excessive daytime drowsiness that may negatively impact academic performance, productivity at work, relationships with friends and family, and even the likelihood of getting into a major car accident.

Although narcolepsy is relatively uncommon, it nonetheless affects hundreds of thousands of children and adults in the United States.

Patients and their loved ones might be more equipped to deal with the effects of narcolepsy if they have a firm grasp of the disorder’s many forms, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Explain the nature of narcolepsy.

Disorders like narcolepsy cause problems with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. The inability of the brain to control wakefulness and sleep effectively leads to the major symptom of the disorder, which is excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the last stage of normal sleep, often occurring an hour or more after falling asleep. Disorders like narcolepsy cause REM sleep to occur at abnormal times, often only minutes after falling asleep.

People with narcolepsy often experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep as a result of brain abnormalities that alter typical sleep patterns. Daytime drowsiness and other narcolepsy symptoms may also be brought on by these interruptions.

Types

A Reliable Third Edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders

The mission of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is to improve the quality of health care, teaching, and research in the field of sleep medicine by setting and promoting rigorous scientific and medical standards.

Detailed Reference Here

(International Classification of Sleep Disorders, Third Edition) (NT2).

Cataplexy, the rapid decrease of muscular tone, is a symptom of Narcolepsy Type 1 NT1. Formerly known as “narcolepsy with cataplexy,” or NT1, has changed names many times.

Even among those who have been diagnosed with NT1, not everyone will have attacks of cataplexy. Low levels of hypocretin-1, a substance in the body that regulates alertness, are another indicator of NT1.

Cataplexy always happens, even if it’s not apparent at the time of diagnosis. Verified Information Biotechnology Information Database, National Library of Medicine. By making biomedical and genetic data more widely available, the National Center for Biotechnology Information improves human health and scientific progress. Detailed Reference Here in a sizable subset of the population with inadequate levels of hypocretin-1.

In the past, narcolepsy type 2 NT2 was referred to as “narcolepsy without cataplexy.” Some symptoms of NT2 are similar to those of NT1, however NT2 patients do not experience cataplexy or have low levels of hypocretin-1.

An individual with NT2 may be categorised as NT1 if they go on to suffer cataplexy or have low hypocretin-1 levels. It is believed that about 10% of instances include a shift in diagnosis.

The frequency of narcolepsy.

It’s unusual to find someone with narcolepsy. In the United States, between 20 and 67 persons per 100,000 are diagnosed with NT1. A demographic study conducted in Olmstead County, Minnesota, found that NT1 is two-to-three times more prevalent Verified Information Biotechnology Information Database, National Library of Medicine. By making biomedical and genetic data more widely available, the National Center for Biotechnology Information improves human health and scientific progress. Detailed Reference Here compared to NT2, which is thought to impact just 20-67 persons per 100,000.

Due to underdiagnosis and diagnostic lags, estimating the prevalence of narcolepsy is difficult. In many cases, a narcoleptic patient’s condition isn’t identified until years after the onset of symptoms. Verified Information Biotechnology Information Database, National Library of Medicine. By making biomedical and genetic data more widely available, the National Center for Biotechnology Information improves human health and scientific progress. Check Full Reference. Consequently, narcolepsy has a possible incidence of 180 cases per 100,000 people, according to certain calculations.

Narcolepsy affects nearly the same number of males and females, and may strike at any age. Although it may happen at any age, studies have shown that it is most common between the ages of 15 and 35.

Symptoms

Daytime and nighttime manifestations of narcolepsy symptoms are equally problematic. A few of the most typical signs are:

• Narcolepsy patients always have the hallmark symptom of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). The sleepiness associated with EDS is often overwhelming, especially when it occurs in routine settings. Constant daydreaming is a common side effect of extreme fatigue. Those who suffer from narcolepsy may have “sleep attacks,” or sudden bouts of sleepiness. Naps, even brief ones, may provide patients with narcolepsy a momentary boost of energy.

• Unconscious, automatic activities may be triggered by vigilance against tiredness. A pupil in class can seem to be writing, but in reality they are only scribbling meaningless lines or nonsense.

• Nighttime sleep disruption, also known as sleep fragmentation, is a typical symptom of narcolepsy, which may cause patients to awaken many times during the night. Nacoleptics also tend to have an increased prevalence of other troublesome sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and excessive physical movement during sleep.

One symptom of narcolepsy is sleep paralysis, a condition in which the sufferer feels immobilised either when they are falling asleep or waking up.

It’s possible to have a hallucinatory experience while sleeping, either when you’re drifting off to sleep (hypnagogic hallucinations) or as you’re waking up (hypnopompic hallucinations). Along with sleep paralysis, this is a potentially terrifying symptom.

• Cataplexy: Experiencing an abrupt collapse of muscular tone is known as cataplexy. Only those with NT1 are affected by this, not those with NT2. Cataplexy is triggered often by happy feelings like laughing and pleasure. Most cases of cataplexy include both sides of the body and last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. In NT1, some persons have cataplexy just a few times a year, whereas others might have as many as a dozen or more episodes every single day.

While everyone with narcolepsy also has EDS, only around a quarter of those with the disorder also have these symptoms. Not all of these signs and symptoms may appear at the same time, though. Cataplexy is one symptom that may manifest itself long after the onset of EDS.

Treatments

Neither type 1 nor type 2 narcolepsy can be treated at this time. Treatment for narcolepsy aims to improve quality of life by alleviating symptoms and increasing patient safety.

Many patients with narcolepsy experience no significant change in their condition over time. Symptomatic improvement with age is possible, and in very rare instances, complete symptomatic remission may occur on its own. To yet, researchers have not determined why the illness manifests in varying degrees between patients.

Both NT1 and NT2 may be treated similarly, albeit NT2 patients will not need to worry about perhaps needing to take medicine to control cataplexy.

Symptoms may be considerably mitigated with a mix of medicinal and behavioural treatments, but they cannot be eliminated entirely. In most cases, even after receiving therapy, symptoms of EDS will still be present to some degree. As with any therapy, it’s important to have a doctor oversee the process to provide the greatest possible results.

Medications

Although behavioural treatments for narcolepsy are often effective, most patients also use Artvigil

medication to manage their condition.

Many people with narcolepsy find relief from their symptoms when they take Waklert medication, however some of these drugs also come with unwanted side effects. These medications should be taken cautiously and only as prescribed by your doctor and pharmacist.

Medications like these are often used for narcolepsy.

The first-line treatment for EDS is often the wakefulness-promoting medications modafinil and armodafinil, which are chemically identical.

EDS may be alleviated by the amphetamine methylphenidate.

In 2019, the FDA authorised a medication called solriamfetol, which has been demonstrated to have similar effects on EDS as modafinil.

Biotechnology Information Database, National Library of Medicine.

By making biomedical and genetic data more widely available, the National Center for Biotechnology Information improves human health and scientific progress.

Check Full Reference.

While sodium oxybate may have an immediate effect on EDS, it may take weeks before you see a difference in cataplexy or sleep difficulties at night. Verified Information Biotechnology Information Database, National Library of Medicine. By making biomedical and genetic data more widely available, the National Center for Biotechnology Information improves human health and scientific progress. Check Full Reference.

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved pitolisant, a wakefulness-promoting medicine that has also been demonstrated to have a beneficial impact on cataplexy.

Unfortunately, not all treatments are effective, and some individuals may have more severe adverse effects or drug interactions than others. Collaboration with your doctor is key to finding the optimal drug and dose.

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