1 AnswerPiedmont Heart Institute answeredIn most cases, symptoms first appear between the ages of 10 and 25 years, but narcolepsy can become clinically apparent at virtually any age. Many patients first experience symptoms between the ages of 35 and 45 years. A smaller number initially manifest the disorder around the ages of 50 to 55 years. Narcolepsy can also develop early in life, probably more frequently than is generally recognized. For example, three-year-old children have been diagnosed with the disorder. However, whatever the age of onset, patients find that the symptoms tend to worsen over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60.
Narcoleptic symptoms, often prove more severe when the disorder develops early in life rather than during the adult years. Experts have also begun to recognize that narcolepsy sometimes contributes to certain childhood behavioral problems, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and must be addressed before the behavioral problem can be resolved. If left undiagnosed and untreated, narcolepsy can pose special problems for children and adolescents, interfering with their psychological, social, and cognitive development and undermining their ability to succeed at school. For some young people, feelings of low self-esteem due to poor academic performance may persist into adulthood.
This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
2 AnswersHealthyWomen answeredOften mistaken for depression, epilepsy or the side effects of medications, narcolepsy can occur in men or women at any age although its symptoms are typically first noticed in adolescence and young adulthood. There is some evidence that narcolepsy may run in families. Up to 10% of people with narcolepsy report having a close relative with the same symptoms.
Although some claim to be effective, there are no proven over-the-counter medications that can cure or treat narcolepsy. Taking nonprescription stimulants, for example, can be dangerous and ineffective without a doctor's oversight. Talk to your doctor before using any medication for your narcolepsy symptoms.
1 AnswerDr. Mehmet Oz, MD , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answeredPeople with narcolepsy often tell me they feel overly sleepy after meals. What and how much you're eating may be a contributing factor. Some doctors don't believe diet has any impact on narcolepsy symptoms, but some studies—and definitely patient stories—say otherwise. Evaluating your diet and giving it a good healthy boost certainly couldn't hurt right?
Let's give it a try.
1. Start by journaling your food for two weeks. Don't change your diet at all, but write everything down. I mean everything: food, snacks, beverages, candy.
2. Note how you feel up to 30 minutes after eating.
3. Highlight or underline all the simple carbohydrates you're eating with each meal. Simple carbs break down into glucose very easily, which may be messing with your system, or even causing you to gain weight. Examples of simple carbs are: white bread, crackers, low fiber cereals, cookies, sweets, juice, white pasta, soda, cake.
4. Replace simple carbs with complex carbs, like brown rice, multi-grain breads, oats, vegetables, beans, whole fruit, soy, yams, potatoes, yogurt, and peas.
5. Clean out your kitchen and go shopping!
6. Switch to eating high-fiber meals rich in complex carbs and lean proteins.
7. Note how you feel up to 30 minutes after eating. Do you see a difference?
What about that lean protein? Try limiting your protein to beans, fish, and poultry during the day and see how you feel. If you're inclined to eat red meat, limit the quantity to the size of a deck of cards, and eat it at dinnertime. If you're sleepy afterward—that's okay, it's bedtime. Right?
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.
1 AnswerDr. Michael Breus, PhD , Psychology, answeredWhat are the signs of narcolepsy?
• Excessive daytime sleepiness is typically the first symptom of narcolepsy. It’s the overwhelming need to sleep when you prefer to be awake.
• Narcolepsy is typically associated with a sudden weakness or paralysis often initiated by laughter or other intense feelings, sleep paralysis, an often frightening situation--where you are half awake yet cannot move--and intensely vivid and scary dreams occurring at the onset or end of sleep.
• A narcoleptic may also experience “automatic behavior,” in which you perform routine or boring tasks but can’t remember doing so later.
1 AnswerNewYork-Presbyterian Hospital answered
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.
To manage your narcolepsy on a daily basis, follow the instructions of your doctor. Take all prescription medication as directed, and contact your doctor right away if you experience any problems. Also, avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, especially before bedtime. Exercise regularly (but not at night), keep a regular sleeping and waking schedule, and take naps of less than 30 minutes at the same time every day. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your condition so they understand your behavior. Do not drive or do other dangerous activities if your symptoms are not under control. Seek counseling or a support group if you think it will help you cope.
Behavioral changes may help treat some of your narcolepsy symptoms without medication. Avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, especially before bedtime. Exercise regularly, but not at night. Keep a regular sleeping and waking schedule, and take naps of less than 30 minutes at the same time every day. Some people also find counseling or support groups to be helpful.