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Narcolepsy Causes

To date, the cause of this disorder is yet unknown. However, researches have identified conditions that may increase one's susceptibility to the condition. For example, recent studies have unveiled the correlation between narcoleptics and certain predisposed genetic factors. One possible cause may be rooted in the chromosome 6 of the HLA complex. On the other hand, in spite of experimental proof that narcolepsy may be genetic in nature, the mode of inheritance has not yet been determined.

Narcolepsy Definition

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition wherein patients exhibit excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). The word itself is derived from the French word narcolepsie. It was Jean-Baptiste-?douard G?lineau, a 19th century French physician, who first coined the term by combining the Greek words “narke” (meaning numbness) and lepsis (meaning attack or seizure).

Narcolepsy Diagnosis

When all the hallmark signs of narcolepsy are present, diagnosis of this disease is relatively easy. However, when sleep attacks and cataplexy are isolated, diagnosis becomes a little more difficult. To screen for narcolepsy, the polysomnogram test and the multiple sleep latency test are often performed by what is known as a sleep specialist. Polysomnogram entails the clinical recording of brain waves while the patient sleeps. Nerve and muscle functions are also closely monitored. Narcoleptic patients usually fall asleep instantly, enter REM sleep earlier than normal, and often wake up for no reason during the night. Through polysomnogram, it is possible to identify all other forms of sleep disorders related to the affliction. In the context of multiple sleep latency, patients are allowed to sleep at 2-hour intervals during normal wake periods. The patient's time in reaching various stages of sleep (i.e. sleep latency) are closely observed and recorded. The aim of this test is to measure the degree of daytime sleepiness and analyze how soon REM sleep begins. Individuals who rapidly fall asleep and enter REM sleep too early are most likely narcoleptic.

Narcolepsy Symptoms and Signs

Narcoleptic individuals commonly suffer from disturbed nocturnal sleep, which is often wrongly confused with insomnia. Patients also experience abnormalities in rapid eye movement (REM) during sleep. One of the most documented symptoms is the propensity of narcoleptics to fall asleep at any random time (such as in the middle of talking, walking, working, or while performing any normal routine activities). This is because patients suffer from EDS, or excessive daytime sleepiness, even after a full night's rest. As a result, affected people tend to fall asleep without warning, mostly in unexpected times and places. These inappropriate “naps” may occur several times a day, but last only briefly.

Narcolepsy Treatment

The drowsiness of afflicted patients may be treated by stimulants. Examples of these are racemic amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate, and methamphetamine or modafinil. Some other forms of medications, such as selegiline and codeine, may also be used. Atomoxetine, which is not a stimulant, and Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI) may also be recommended.

Drugs used for treatment of Narcolepsy


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