The main purpose of the narcolepsy medication is to keep the patient away from an irregular schedule, to reduce the cataplexy episodes to minimum and to form a normal nyctemeral rythm.
Narcolepsy medications include:
- sodium oxybate
The stimulants of the central nervous system represent the first intention of treatment for people who suffer from narcolepsy. Modafinil is a new non-addictive stimulant and produces no significant changes in patient mood. Some people need treatment with methylphenidate or even with amphetamines, but although these latter drugs are effective, their pharmacological action is accompanied by side effects, such as irritability and palpitations; the risk of addiction is also very high if it is used for a long time.
This article will cover principal symptoms of narcolepsy. Some of the symptoms may be attributed to other sleep disorders, or even depression since in both disorders some of the primary neurotransmitters within the center of the brain, known as the hypothalamus, are affected.
The first and foremost most notable symptom of narcolepsy is a persistent sleepiness that occurs during the day, despite having a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling alert; with the latter being a differentiator with obstructive sleep apnea where you do not get as good a night’s sleep, thus fail to wake up feeling alert.
People with narcolepsy usually sleep well during the night and still feel tired during the day, which is due to a lack of hypocretins being produced in the hypothalamus which translate to other neurons that you are awake, many narcoleptics have a more fragmented sleep where they wake up one or more times during the night and stay up for twenty minutes or longer. If that is not bad enough, this fragmented sleep can be interrupted by dreams and hallucinations or even a brief paralysis that occurs right before the person falls asleep or just before they wake up.
At least half of all individuals diagnosed with this condition have a cataplexy which is a brief episode of muscle weakness that, in many cases, is triggered by very strong emotions. Many people who have narcolepsy with cataplexy may only have one or two episodes in their entire life while others could have as many as twenty in a single day. Each episode does not usually last more than a minute or two but can still feel threatening, especially as it could be confused with stroke.
Most cases of narcolepsy start when an individual is between ten and twenty years of age. In some rare cases the disease may develop at forty to fifty years of age. The younger children who suffer from narcolepsy are prone to be more irritable, hyperactive, and have serious problems concentrating on their schoolwork. This could explain the explosion in diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and teenagers, since sleepiness in children often manifests as an excess outburst of energy, unlike adults where sleepiness shows up as extreme tiredness due to low energy feeling and almost lethargic state.
Hypersomnia is an excess of sleep, which differs from the normal one in duration, depth and quickness of appearance. Hypersomnia should be distinguished from the comatose state of sleep by its reversible character. The two forms of sleep correspond to two kinds of hypersomnia, some corresponding to the slow sleep phase and other to the quickly sleep one.
As a definition, hypersomnia is characterized by excessive sleepiness that occurs almost every day in a person who sleeps normal at night(8-12 hours duration). The person with the disorder just wants to sleep during the day, but there are situations when sleep is installed unwittingly.
Currently there are no narcolepsy cures that can treat completely this disease. Some drugs may reduce the risk of drowsiness and untimely nap: amphetamines and other stimulants may be prescribed, as well as antidepressants.
An impeccable hygiene of life, with regular siesta may help spending a lifetime as active and normal and may complete the classic narcolepsy cure. If you record the narcolepsy symptoms, the doctor visit is required because there are many posibilities of narcolepsy cures that can get you rid of troubles. If you lose control over yourself, you can take some steps to avoid future complications.
Following the self-diagnosis of narcolepsy, which usually consists of a questionnaire known as Epworth Sleepiness Scale which merely gives us an idea as to the extent of our condition, we will need to make an appointment with our PCP, or primary care physician. Our physician will then likely refer us to over to a sleep specialist where a sleep study may be ordered. The good part is we get to sleep in a nice comfy bed; as long as you don’t mind the wires that are hooked up to you so the sleep team can extract the results from the sleep study while you are sleeping.
The sleep specialist will begin by asking questions about the symptoms that we are experiencing along with other causes of sleepiness. This typically includes a physical exam and, later on, the sleep study that we have all been waiting for which will actually confirm the diagnosis.
During the initial questioning, the doctor and/or the sleep specialist will usually rule out all of the obvious causes of sleepiness issues such as clinical depression and other mental health conditions. Some of the other causes that can lead to chronic sleepiness include inefficient sleep, problems with sleep timing (such as staying up too late), medications that make us too sedated, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep behavior disorder, sleep walking, and of course stress if we are in a situation that keeps us constantly stressed out to the point of affecting our sleep.
Following the questioning, there will typically be a physical examination which includes a neurological examination to rule out any other likely disorders than may cause muscle weakness or sleepiness to persist. This examination typically includes the polysomnogram (PSG) and the multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT).
Narcolepsy is a very serious sleeping disorder. It is a neurological disease that manifests in the form of sleep attacks. These attacks occur suddenly and may happen anywhere. It is a morbid disorder that occurs in repeated crises of varying duration, characterized by an urgent and uncontrollable need to sleep. This urge cannot be fought, and it is accompanied by short episodes of loss of muscle control. These sleep attacks occur regularly, and immediately turns into dreaming without the non-REM phase.
Narcoleptics can sleep at any time, without wakefulness interruption control. It is estimated that a rate of 0.03% of the population is affected by narcolepsy symptoms. The main symptom of narcolepsy is excessive sleepiness in adolescence, but signs can occur from an early age (in school or preschool), affecting both sexes equally. Symptoms into adulthood are rare, but they can start because of strong psychological and social stress or disruption of sleep-waking rhythm. Those who suffer from narcolepsy cannot stay asleep for long periods of time and can’t enjoy the soothing effects of a full night’s sleep. It is not known what causes this disease, but it is presumed to be related with autoimmune and genetic causes. It seems that a certain mutant gene occurred more frequently among those with narcolepsy symptoms, located between genes and CHKB and CPT1B. CPT1B controls the enzyme that induces sleep and the CHKB gene is responsible with the waking mechanisms.
The main symptom is the episodes of falling asleep suddenly, which can occur at any time. These unexpected siestas usually last half an hour, after which the patient wakes up voluntarily. These episodes usually occur several times a day and are accompanied by other symptoms that vary from patient to patient, which makes this disease difficult to diagnose.