is Narcolepsy? What are the symptoms of Narcolepsy?
is a brain disorder. Narcolepsy is probably caused by
an inability of the brain to make substances which control
the sleep-wake cycle. Patients with narcolepsy have
deranged ability to stay awake and stay asleep at the
appropriate times. They develop interesting symptoms
as a result. These symptoms include:
Patients with narcolepsy are excessively sleepy compared to
other people. They have overwhelming feelings of sleepiness
at inappropriate times, such as during conversations, while
driving, at work and other times. Other disorders may also
cause sleepiness. For this reason, narcolepsy should be diagnosed
by an experienced sleep specialist who can exclude other causes.
Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle tone. It usually happens
when a patient with narcolepsy experiences intense emotion.
Common such emotions include laughter, telling or hearing
a funny joke, surprise, or anger.
These are intense, dream-like hallucinations which occur before
sleep onset, while a person is still awake and conscious.
Sleep paralysis is a frightening symptom. Patients with it
become paralyzed and unable to move. It happens just before
is the diagnosis of narcolepsy made?
Patients who are suspected of having narcolepsy should have
a consultation with a sleep specialist. Other disorders cause
sleepiness; these are best excluded by a sleep specialist.
of narcolepsy is made by taking a history (a physician asks
the patient about symptoms) and performing sleep studies.