Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy

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    Narcolepsy is a potentially serious, chronic sleep disorder which causes uncontrollable fatigue during the day and sleep disturbances at night. If you have narcolepsy, you regularly feel very sleepy during the daytime, and you may even fall asleep up to several times a day. These episodes may be accompanied by muscle weakness.

    Narcolepsy has no cure, but treatment options are available. Your doctor may prescribe an SSRI or other type of antidepressant to relieve many of your symptoms. Another treatment option is prescription stimulants, which may help during the day. Sodium oxybate may be recommended to help you sleep at night, stay awake during the day, and relieve serious cases of cataplexy. All of these medicines have potential side effects.

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    Narcolepsy cannot be diagnosed from symptoms alone, as many other sleep disorders can cause the same symptoms. Therefore, you will most likely be tested at a sleep center. During a sleep study, you stay in a sleep lab. As you sleep, your brain, heart, lungs, and muscles will be monitored. A doctor will evaluate the test results. Your doctor may also recommend a spinal tap to measure your level of hypocretin, a brain chemical that helps control sleep.

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    There is currently no cure for narcolepsy. Prescription medications and behavioral changes can help you manage its symptoms, however. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

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    Narcolepsy is a lifelong illness that can be kept in control for most people. If not treated or kept in control, it can cause danger since episodes may occur while driving, operating machines, or other risky activities. With medications and enough sleep, including naps or rest periods, many people with narcolepsy can stay awake and alert all day. Narcolepsy can also create problems with family and friends and trouble at work. As a result, it may be hard to keep a job and enjoy lasting relationships. For some people with narcolepsy there is an extra burden of dealing with people who falsely believe their symptoms are caused by laziness or lack of will power.

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    Narcolepsy can make you very tired during the day, and may cause you to fall asleep without warning at any time. You may find it hard to concentrate or remain alert enough to complete your tasks. Cataplexy, or lack of muscle tone, can also strike at any time, though this is often linked to feeling extreme happiness, sadness, or other emotion. Sleep paralysis can cause you to be unable to move or speak for a short time after awakening, which can be scary. Narcolepsy may also diminish your quality of nighttime sleep and your sex drive.

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    If daytime fatigue is interfering with your life, or if you suspect you have narcolepsy, you should talk to your doctor. Undiagnosed narcolepsy can lead to personal and professional problems, as your behavior could be mistaken for laziness or disinterest, or you could have trouble completing tasks. Serious complications such as auto accidents can also result from uncontrolled sleepiness. Though your doctor cannot offer a cure, they can diagnose your narcolepsy and may be able to treat some of its symptoms.

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    Narcolepsy is a condition characterized by sudden sleep attacks during the day. Individuals with narcolepsy may fall asleep at inappropriate times and without warning several times a day. Research found that people with narcolepsy lack a chemical in the brain known as hypocretin. This substance normally stimulates arousal and helps regulate sleep.
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    Because the exact cause of narcolepsy is not known, it is unknown whether any other disease has an effect on it. But if you have another condition for which you are taking medication, be sure to tell your doctor before they prescribe a drug for your narcolepsy symptoms. Certain medications for diabetes and high blood pressure, for example, should not be taken together with certain narcolepsy drugs.

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    Narcolepsy has no cure, but treatment options are available. Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to relieve many of your symptoms. Another treatment option is prescription stimulants, which may help during the day. Sodium oxybate may be recommended to help you sleep at night, stay awake during the day, and relieve serious cases of cataplexy. All of these medicines have potential side effects.

    Keeping a regular sleeping and waking schedule and taking regular naps of less than 30 minutes may also help.

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    Having narcolepsy is potentially serious. The condition itself will not harm you. But your work or relationships may suffer from your daytime fatigue. Real harm can result from driving or doing other dangerous activities if your narcolepsy is not under control, as falling asleep at the wheel could be life-threatening.