The History of Narcolepsy – Discovery and Science

Narcolepsy has been plaguing the human existence for centuries, with no known explanation as to why the brain shuts down, and the body goes into a form of sleep paralysis. Narcoleptic history is a touch and go subject because in the ancient times documents were not kept as accurately as they are today, and the documents that were kept were either destroyed, or cannot be deciphered.  The history of narcolepsy in human beings is taken down by a physician and kept in an extensive medical file for that patient.

With each new case of narcolepsy the history and everything that is known about the brain and how it works is added to and carefully studied. Scientists have done extensive research to understand what is triggered when a cataplectic attack happens. With every sleep study that is preformed brain wave activity is measure, how long an episode lasts, and what happened before the attack happened is also carefully recorded to make sure that everything is properly noted.

Narcolepsy and Animals

Narcolepsy not only is a human disorder, but it also affects dogs and horses. This disorder works the same way in animals as it does in human beings:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Lost time
  • Sleep paralysis

All of these happen when a person has a history of narcolepsy, and most of time it has been diagnosed by a physician or a vet. The history of narcolepsy in horses is a little less definitive, because narcolepsy in horses is rare and often mistaken for a sleep apnea. Muscle fatigue and weight loss are both signs of a sleeping disorder, but not always narcolepsy when it comes to a horse. The signs are more noticeable, like standing still in mid step, are a general bad mood. While looking for these symptoms, the owner or trainer of the horse should also consult a veterinarian.

The canine history of narcolepsy is caused by a disruption of hypocretin receptor 2 genes or Hcrtr2, what the Hcrtr2 gene does is activates the brains sleeping agent making the body want to sleep and rest when the brain does not need to do so. With significant research being done with canines scientists have determined that the trait first developed in Labrador retrievers and Dobermans, and the gene was bred into them much like that of a horse retaining that trait from their parentage.

With each study that was taken with the dogs a pattern began to emerge with the breeds that had been back breed or had the same parents and brothers and sisters, the pattern clearly pointed out that the canines that were back breed had a greater likely hood of contracting the narcoleptic gene trait and making the animal more susceptible to having narcolepsy.  The traits and genes are passed down from parent to child and continue down through the line. As the line continues throughout the years the narcoleptic trait becomes stronger and the chances of having the gene activate is greatly increased.

Narcolepsy-Cataplexy

When sleepiness and cataplexy become a factor in life and daytime sleep is needed to function normally, it becomes harder to deal with normal society, and daily functions. When falling asleep or waking after an episode has hit, the lack of muscle functions is hard to get over. The body does not want to move or respond no matter how hard the person tries to move or respond to a simple command because of the sudden attack leaves the muscles in a weakened state.

The lack of muscle usage is one of the main problems for people with narcolepsy, some episodes can take place while driving and the lack of motor control is a main cause of motor accidents for people with narcolepsy.

Nighttime sleep is hard to get when a person has narcolepsy with cataplexy, because of the need to sleep during the day. The body will get the initial six to eight hours of sleep required to function but not at the normal time. When the body has a cataplectic attack it will shut down and sometimes even do automatic responses such as eating, speaking, driving, reading, writing, cooking, and cleaning. Some of the auto responses are not as dangerous as the others but, cooking; eating and driving can all have fatal ends. Eating sounds like it would not have a fatal end when having a cataplectic attack but the person could choke, on their food and not being able to respond correctly could kill them.

Narcolepsy and its history has changed over the years and course of study, with therapy, and regular medical examinations narcolepsy and all of the effects can be controlled with medication, life style changes and sleep studies, a patients narcolepsy can be controlled and even prevented.

With regular treatment the signs of narcolepsy such as hallucinations, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, depression, and lack of interest in things can be changed. With the advances that have been made in the neurological field the studies that have been made on the brain and mapping each quadrant, greatly increases the understanding of not only how the brain works but as to why the brain sometimes has a deficiency. Another study shows that the narcoleptic trait has origins of being an auto immune disease or closely related to it.

With the studies that are being made and advances in science the narcolepsy history is being easier defined and laid out for people to understand. The fact that right before people fall asleep or hypnogogic is a crucial time for people with narcolepsy, because of how the muscle tone either tenses up or completely relaxes all depends how sever a cataplectic attack is going to be.

Throughout history narcolepsy has been a factor in lives and now in our modern world there is a potential cure for narcolepsy. The treatments that have been developed, and the ones that are still being developed for this disorder have come a long way and have been a really big help for making the lives of people with narcolepsy easier to cope with.

Estufs

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