Narcolepsy

By: Vanessa Melo

Narcolepsy is a nervous system disorder.

In most patients, Narcolepsy is linked to low amounts of a protein called Hypocretin which is made in the brain. What causes the brain to produce reduced amounts of this protein is unknown. Sometimes, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the brain cells involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. It is believed that narcolepsy is the result of these cells being damaged or destroyed.


Symptoms of Narcolepsy

What are they?

Periods of extreme drowsiness during the day. You may feel a strong urge to sleep, often followed by a short nap (sleep attack).

  • Sleep attacks last for about 15 minutes each, sometimes they can be longer.

  • Slepp attacks may happen after eating, while driving, talking to someone, or during other regular situations.

  • Cataplexy

Signs that you may have Narcolepsy..

How can you know??

The four major signs of Narcolepsy are....


  • Extreme daytime sleepiness
  • Cataplexy (Muscle weakness) while awake
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep Paralysis
Other symptoms may include..
  • Not sleeping well at night
  • Trouble focusing


Who gets Narcolepsy??

Is Narcolepsy rare?..

Narcolepsy affects both male and females, and this sleep disorder appears throughout the world. Narcolepsy often starts in childhood/adolescence (although it can begin at any age) and is lifelong. Narcolepsy occurs in 1 in 2,000 individuals. Narcolepsy is not genetic, and usually happens to people with no known family history of the disorder.


Less than 50,000 have been diagnosed properly and it affects approximately 0.05% of the population in the U.S. In Israel, approximately 1 in every 500,000 people have narcolepsy while in Japan, the number is much larger with 1 in every 600 people.

Can Narcolepsy be fatal?

Narcolepsy it self is not a a fatal disorder. Although you may fall asleep while driving or doing something potentially dangerous which might cause to serious injury.

Can Narcolepsy be treated?

You can take medication such as stimulants to stimulate the central nervous system and stay more awake during the day and other medicines to control cataplexy. Many people who have narcolepsy are often stressed or depressed, counselling helps with anxiety as well.

INTERESTING FACTS...

Narcoleptics sometime suffer with automatic behavior, this is when you might be doing something such as writing, and have a sleep attack, with automatic behavior you keep writing the paper even while your asleep.


Animals can have narcolepsy also, such as dogs or cats, sometimes horses etc, this is very rare though.

Bibliography

"Helpguide's Story." About Us. N.p., Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. Narcolepsy. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. "What Is Narcolepsy, Symptoms & Causes - WebMD." WebMD. WebMD, 03 Jan. 0000. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.