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Narcolepsy

What is narcolepsy?

  • Narcolepsy is a rare disease that gives rise to marked daytime sleepiness.

What are the symptoms of narcolepsy?

  • Narcolepsy usually occurs in late teens to young adults but patients in their 40s and 50s may present as it is a difficult to diagnose condition.
  • Other associated factors are vivid dreams, sleep paralysis, hallucinations as you are falling asleep and usually disrupted night-time sleep.
  • A proportion of narcolepsy patients may feel they cannot maintain their body tone when they have extreme of emotions called “cataplexy” or loss of tone.
  • Narcoplesy quite commonly exists with depression and anxiety and it’s important to differentiate this condition with psychiatric illnesses and other medical conditions and drug use.

What is the diagnosis for narcolepsy?

  • The diagnosis is made by a combination of history, clinical exam and sleep testing that is carried out during daytime and night-time.
  • A sleep physician is required to do these tests to come to an accurate diagnosis.
  • Usually a psychiatrist and psychologist or neurologist assessment may be needed alongside as well.

What is the treatments for narcolepsy?

  • The treatment is by lifestyle modification, avoiding drugs/alcohol and then using controlled awake promoting agents.
  • Close monitoring of a sleep physician is required with this type of treatment