Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes people to fall asleep during moments when they should be attentive. This chronic sleep disorder can strike any time, day or night, and knows no age, color, sex or class. Sometimes the diagnosis of narcolepsy is difficult, due to the lack of medical history. Narcolepsy effects are wide and varying, depending on how sever the condition has become.
Understanding what Narcolepsy is
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that has not been completely diagnosed by physicians, and sometimes is even misdiagnosed. Narcolepsy has been classified as a hypersomnia disorder that affects surprisingly more men than women and shows normally between the ages of 10 and 25. There is a reported one per one thousand people that has narcolepsy, there could be even more people in the world with narcolepsy but the diagnosis is still a little dodgy.
Narcolepsy symptoms and effects
There are many different symptoms that come along with narcolepsy, and how they affect daily life.
- extreme day sleepiness
- muscle weakness
- sleep paralysis
These are just a few symptoms of narcolepsy some of the effects that narcolepsy brings about are
- falling asleep at random times
- losing time and not knowing what you did during those missing hours
- lack of interest in school or a job
Most people with narcolepsy are categorized as being lazy, unmotivated, pessimistic, and a general pain to be around, because they seem to lack the motivation to complete simple tasks because of fatigue, and a genuine need to sleep at random times. Narcolepsy effect many different aspects of life and with certain life style changes can become very manageable. With the effect of narcolepsy being better diagnosed and the signs closer observed, the diagnosis has become more accurate.
Diagnosing the Effect of Narcolepsy
There are many different ways to diagnosing narcolepsy
- a sleep study
- blood test
- an evaluation by a physician
With these many different ways to diagnose narcolepsy and its effect doctors have become more effective at performing a multiple sleep latency test so that if there is more than one patient with narcolepsy the condition can then have a diagnosis and treatment. If the disease is classified as insomnia because narcolepsy does have certain characteristics, then a sleep latency test should be performed to tell if the diagnosis is correct or not. With the advances that have been made in this field of study, the medication and changes that have greatly improved a chance at a seemingly normal life has been greatly increased.
When the first signs of narcolepsy hit a physician can help explain the process and what is happening in the body. Do not be afraid to talk about what is happening with the body and the changes that have been made.
What to look out for and discuss with a physician
- daytime sleepiness
- sleep paralysis
- night terrors
- emotional triggers such as laughing, crying, becoming stressed, or even sexual activities
These are just a few examples of the symptoms of narcolepsy, but there still are a great many more than just those few listed, but if the symptoms continue for more than 3 nights a week for over 3 months at a time then that is a sure sign that narcolepsy is a factor in life.
Coping with narcolepsy
- Stay away from cigarettes
- no alcohol
- stay stress free
- eat healthy foods
With these minor changes in life the brain begins to cope with narcolepsy and all of the problems that can arise from the disorder. Medication also helps with the diverse effects that the disease has the continuous need to sleep, the paralysis, and even the lack of motivation.
Medication for Narcolepsy
Adderall- this drug is primarily given to people with ADHD but in the case of having Adderall prescribed for narcolepsy the drug works by changing the amount of certain natural substances in the brain.
Ritalin- this drug is also used for ADHD and ADD but with narcolepsy it activates impulse control and hyperactivity.
- Provigil- improves wakefulness
Methylin- with this drug there is a caution label that specifically says that if there is any substance abuse, emotional problems, or alcoholism, do not take this drug because the drug may not work or it could become very addictive and cause mental health issues.
Just like any other drug there will always be side effects but for the most part the medication that is prescribed for narcolepsy has been a great help and works with little to no problem from the patient with side effects. The tests that are performed to find what medicine and how the dosage should be can be a long process but if every sign, symptom, and reaction to the medication is reported back to a physician then the medications dosage and type can be changed as according to the patients preference.
With every new medication that is being created and tested on patients with anywhere from mild narcolepsy to advanced narcolepsy the medical environment is coming closer and closer to finding a permanent solution to the problem of narcolepsy. Also with each new drug comes a clearer understanding how the brain feels the need to constantly shut its self-off and rest.
The brain does not have a clinical diagnosis as to why it spontaneously shuts down, but when a doctor can completely understand what is going on in the human brain, and why the patient will want to constantly daytime sleep, the human race will have a way change the effects on narcolepsy.
Some of the tests that are preformed to see in narcolepsy are a factor and not something else is urology, or a urine sample to see how the chemical balance is working in the patient’s body. Every case of narcolepsy is different just like the patient and needs to be handled with care and precision by the family physician or a physician that specializes in narcolepsy cases. So if signs are being pointed out that there might be a chance that narcolepsy is a problem consult a physician and have the tests ran to be properly diagnosed.