Narcolepsy is a type of hypersomnia disorder that affects one in two thousand people, and it presents with various symptoms in both men and women. There could be an extreme sleepiness during the daytime, which may last for a few minutes or even just for a few seconds. One might even experience muscle paralysis during emotional highs like laughter, sadness, excitement, and more. Such conditions can adversely affect the person’s personal, social and professional life.
Symptoms of Narcolepsy
The symptoms of Narcolepsy may vary from person to person but the most common symptoms for everyone would be extreme day sleepiness and muscle weakness. The excessive sleep during the day time would be the first condition in any person suffering from Narcolepsy causing frequent sleep attacks which lasts for few minutes or more.
The muscle weakness is also another symptom that attacks the narcoleptics is caused by extreme emotional levels and may also cause difficulties in sleeping, drooping eyelids, nodding head, and struggling to move the hands or arms; it and may also cause muscle paralysis which may last for just two or more minutes.
The sleep paralysis is also another symptom but all narcoleptic victims might not experience this. Hallucinations in the form of vivid dreams may occur while sleeping or awake or dozing. Though this is real, it can be a scary experience for many. Certain people have disturbing sleeping patterns at night due to frequent bouts of sleep in the morning.
Automatic behaviors can occur commonly in narcoleptics since they do not realize their actions of which they are completely unaware. These people tend to forget their automatic behaviors very often. In some cases, the symptoms may be very mild whereas in certain cases it tends to be really severe.
Effects of Narcolepsy
Falling asleep in inappropriate times or while in the midst of an activity like driving, working, cooking, eating, walking could be highly dangerous. Because of such unexpected sleep attacks, there may be fatal accidents or injuries. Victims of narcolepsy also experience stress and depression, lack of concentration, problems in their workplace or at school and can even suffer from an impaired memory.
These could be threatening to the normal being of a person, as the nature of the attacks is highly unpredictable. Victims might suffer from sleep-bouts in their school or at work, or anywhere in a public place which would ultimately cause a loss of self-esteem and confidence. It could also result in problems within the family or with co-workers or employers.
Since there is always a sign of laziness, fatigue and disinterest towards things, people might tend to think that Narcoleptics are simply lazy. Since there is no complete cure for this disorder, the victims need to carry these problems for a lifetime. However, with proper medical guidance, the symptoms can easily be greatly reduced.
Usually, people who suffer from Narcolepsy are at a greater risk of accidents at any point of time! Thus, it is always advisable to stop stepping out of the house if you experience any symptom of excessive day sleepiness or fatigue. Due to excessive sleep in the morning, these people might remain very troubled and drowsy throughout the day, while suffering from lack of sleep at night.
Due to poor sleeping patterns, it could lead to poor attention span or people might even struggle a lot to concentrate on things – all these would adverse their social life. Also many narcoleptics complain of headaches, which might lead to migraines. Also due to the low levels of Hypocretin fluid in their brain, there would be an increase in the appetite levels resulting in over eating and obesity.
Treatment for Narcolepsy
As far as treatment of Narcoleptics is concerned, there is no cure for such disorders; however, affected people can change their lifestyle to reduce the symptoms and lead a better life. Apart from regular medications, Narcoleptics can follow several tips to make their lives easier.
Usually, stimulants are given by the doctors to keep them awake and alert during the day but there may be certain side effects to these drugs, such as nervousness and palpitation. The Antidepressants are also used for treating the sleep paralysis or the cataplexy but they too have their side effects.
It is always advisable to avoid heavy meals, alcohol or caffeine while under medication. Additionally, patients should maintain a healthy diet along with a good exercise to help improve their physical as well as mental health. Following these tips can drastically reduce the signs and symptoms of Narcolepsy over a course of time.
Living with Narcolepsy
Since Narcolepsy is a lifelong condition and the chances of a complete cure is very rare, so you should learn to reduce the symptoms. Try to find a quiet and peaceful place to rest if you get frequent sleep attacks during the day. Make sure your home or the atmosphere you stay is safe and protected, as your unpredicted sleep patterns might be dangerous for the security of your house and family members.
Get the help of your doctors, friends or family members, and never forget to take medicines on a regular basis. In case, you are driving, take your family, friends, or co-workers along with you as a safety measure. Narcoleptics can work any type of job, but they should be always extra careful about their place of work. It is quite important that all your friends, family members or your co- workers are aware of your disorder – this is to help maximize safety no matter where you may be.
It may be quite embarrassing if there are frequent sleep attacks or tiredness during the day, but do not let this daunt your zeal for living life to the fullest. Try not to suffer from low self-esteem or feel depressed about your medical problem – there are many like you and they are leading a happy life. Learn more about this disorder to try to minimize your symptoms though a combination of medicine, lifestyle changes, and plenty of exercise and restful time.