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    Overview of Narcolepsy
    You are here: Home > Pharmacy News | Health Articles/Tips > Narcolepsy

      Introduction

      Excessive daytime sleeping is a sleep disorder. It is medically termed as Narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy experience fleeting urges to sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, individuals will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer.

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      What Causes Narcolepsy?

      The cause of excessive daytime sleeping or narcolepsy is uncertain. However, some research indicates genetic factors playing a major role with sleeping disorder. These genes control the production of chemicals in the brain that may signal sleep-awake cycles. Some experts think narcolepsy may be due to a deficiency in the production of a chemical called hypocretin by the brain.

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      What Are the Symptoms of Narcolepsy?

      The main symptom of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleeping (EDS). Hypnagogic hallucinations may also be found in some people. In very rare cases, cataplexy is found. This symptom consists of a sudden loss of muscle tone that leads to feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle control. It can cause symptoms ranging from slurred speech to total body collapse depending on the muscles involved and is often triggered by intense emotion, for example surprise, laughter, or anger. Sleep paralysis like temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep, may also occur in some people.

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      What Are the Diagnosis & Tests for Narcolepsy?

      Once the symptoms are clear it is easy to diagnose narcolepsy. Your doctor will ask you to fill out the Epworth sleepiness scale, which uses series of short questions to gauge your degree of sleepiness. However, to confirm the same, your doctor might prescribe you for any or all of the following tests.

      Actigraphy: The doctor will ask you to wear an actigraph, a device that has the look and feel of a wrist watch. It measures how and when you sleep.

      Polysomnogram: This test measures a variety of signals during sleep using electrodes placed on your scalp before you fall asleep. For this test, you must stay overnight for observation at a medical facility. The test measures the electrical activity of your brain (electroencephalogram) and heart (electrocardiogram), the movement of your muscles (electromyogram) and eyes (electro-oculogram), and monitors your breathing.

      Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT): This examination measures how long it takes for you to fall asleep during the day. You'll be asked to fall asleep for a series of four or five naps, each nap two hours apart. Specialists will observe your sleep patterns. People who have narcolepsy fall asleep easily and enter into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep quickly.

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      What Are the Treatments Available for Narcolepsy?

      There is no cure for narcolepsy. However, the symptoms like excessive daytime sleeping, cataplexy and rapid eye movement can be controlled in most people with medications Sleepiness is treated with amphetamine-like stimulants while the symptoms of abnormal REM sleep are treated using antidepressant medications.

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      How Do You Cope Up with Narcolepsy?

      You are not alone. Narcolepsy affects more than 200,000 people in United States. Following are certain tips that would help your cope up with narcolepsy.
      • Talk to your family and friends about your condition.
      • Be safe and avoid driving.
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      Self Care

      Here are few simple, narcolepsy self-care tips that can reduce narcolepsy breakouts and control future breakouts.
      • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday.
      • Schedule shorter naps at regular intervals.
      • Avoid nicotine and alcohol.
      • Get regular exercise before bedtime.

       

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