Monday, November 29, 2010

Beware of Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a rare sleep disorder, characterized by recurrent attacks of irresistible sleep during the hours of work, paralysis and hallucinations. The cause is unknown, but these disorders tend to be found in one family, which allegedly is a hereditary disease.

Symptoms usually begin in adolescence or young adulthood and settled for life. Patients face the sudden attacks of irresistible sleepiness, which can occur at any time. Feel like sleeping only be detained for a while. But once asleep, the patient usually can be easily awakened.

The attacks can occur several times a day, and every attack usually lasts for 1 hour or less. The attacks are more common in a monotonous situation, such as a boring meeting or driving a car over long distances.

Patients feel the freshness when awake, but a few minutes then fall asleep again. Patients may experience temporary paralysis without a decrease in consciousness (a condition called katapleksi), in response to a sudden emotional reactions such as anger, fear, joy, laughter or surprise. Walking becomes limp, dropping goods being held or dropped to the ground.

Patients may also experience episodes of sleep paralysis, whereby when just falling asleep or immediately after waking, the patient felt unable to move. Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there) may occur at the beginning of sleep or when awake. Hallucinations resembles an ordinary dream, but more powerful.

Diagnosis is usually established on the basis of the symptoms, but similar symptoms do not necessarily indicate that the person is suffering from narcolepsy. Katapleksi, sleep paralysis and hallucinations, commonly found in children and sometimes occurs in healthy adults.

Electroencephalogram (EEG), which is the recording of brain electrical activity, could indicate that the pattern of REM sleep occurs when the patient started to fall asleep. This is typical for narcolepsy. Nothing found structural changes in the brain and not found abnormalities in the results of blood tests.

Stimulant drugs (stimulants), such as fedrin, amphetamines, dekstroamfetamin and metilfenidat, can help reduce narcolepsy. The dose is adjusted to avoid undesirable side effects, such as anxiety, overactive or weight loss. To reduce katapleksi, usually given antidepressants, namely imipramin.

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