The origins of narcolepsy are poorly understood. However, researchers believe that the condition may arise more frequently in those with low levels of the brain alertness chemical, hypocretin, explaining sleepiness episodes.
Currently, there is no cure for narcolepsy. However, there are medications and lifestyle modifications that can help.
At Cochise Oncology we first talk about your sleep history and gauge your level of daytime drowsiness using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. We then collect sleep records and keep a detailed diary of your patterns for a couple of weeks to characterize the severity of the disorder. After a positive diagnosis, you may receive medications to reduce drowsiness and prevent attacks.
The symptoms of narcolepsy include:
Patients with narcolepsy can fall asleep anywhere, at any time, often without prior warning. In some situations, such as when driving a car or preparing food, this can be dangerous. In the early stages of narcolepsy, you may experience excessive daytime sleepiness but not fall asleep. Over time, however, the condition can develop to the point where you fall unconscious suddenly.
Paralysis during sleep
Some narcolepsy patients experience a temporary inability to move or speak while sleeping or waking up. These episodes are usually short-lived, but the feeling of being out of control of your body can be distressing.