Today, there is an increase in many sleep-related diseases. People’s lifestyles and sleep planning also affect this increase. While some of these diseases are genetically onset, some sleep-related diseases occur as a result of daily routines. Narcolepsy is defined as a chronic sleep disorder. Although the cause of the disease is not known exactly, it is thought to occur due to genetic factors and lifestyle. Narcolepsy is also known as falling asleep and sleeping standing up among the people. The most distinctive feature of this disease is falling asleep suddenly during abnormal time periods. We wanted to look at the details of this interesting disease that causes untimely sleep attacks.
What is narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a type of disease that affects the nervous system. People with this disease experience an abnormal sleepiness during the day. According to studies, this disease has a chronic course. The incidence of the disease is about 0.5-2%. The disease usually occurs between the ages of 10 and 25. It is a very difficult type of disease to diagnose. For this reason, patients may be diagnosed late or misdiagnosed. One of the well-known misconceptions about narcolepsy is that this disease is seen more intensely in the late hours. However, this is not considered true. Because patients diagnosed with narcolepsy experience intense drowsiness and sleep attacks during daylight hours.
The vast majority of people with narcolepsy may experience a temporary loss of muscle control, known as cataplexy. Narcolepsy by itself does not pose a deadly danger. However, sleep attacks and drowsiness seen in patients during the day can lead to accidents and injuries. To talk about the other effects of the disease, it can be listed that individuals have difficulties in carrying out their work and have problems in the communication they establish in their daily lives.
What are the symptoms?
Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes unavoidable sleep attacks during the day. Individuals suffering from this disease feel tired all the time, even outside of sleep. One of the symptoms of narcolepsy is the relaxation of the muscles of the diagnosed patients. Subsequently, a sudden loss of strength is observed in the arms, legs and trunk during falling asleep. The symptoms of narcolepsy can differ from person to person. It is also considered normal for the symptoms to develop gradually over time or to appear suddenly within a few weeks. Although narcolepsy is a chronic disease, some symptoms decrease with aging. In order for the diagnosis of narcolepsy to be made, it is important that the patient be examined by a specialist. The most common symptom of the disease is described as excessive daytime sleepiness.
Narcolepsy is a disorder that seriously affects daily life and reduces the quality of life. Feeling sleepy during the day and experiencing sudden sleep attacks lead to loss of concentration. Sudden sleep attacks are considered another serious symptom of the disease. It is unclear when the attacks will occur and how long they will continue. To briefly summarize the symptoms of narcolepsy: Sudden sleep attacks, constant fatigue, loss of strength in the arms, legs and trunk, sleep paralysis, sleep disturbance, hallucinations when falling asleep or waking up, dullness of the gaze, trouble focusing in the early hours of the day and sleepiness. can be listed.
How is narcolepsy diagnosed?
People who apply to a doctor due to excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden loss of muscle tone may be pre-diagnosed with narcolepsy during the examination. After the preliminary diagnosis, a detailed evaluation is made. As a result of the evaluations, the patients are referred to a sleep specialist for a definitive diagnosis. For a clear diagnosis of the disease, sleep analysis is performed by sleep specialists. The patient, who is suspected of narcolepsy, is followed up during the night under the expert control. In order to clarify the patient’s sleep history and sleep problems during the day, certain questions are directed to the patient by the doctor. The connection of these problems with narcolepsy is investigated. When necessary, the patient may be asked to keep a sleep diary. With this stage, the doctor examines the relationship between wakefulness and sleep patterns.
It is possible to get help from a test called polysomnography at the diagnosis stage of the disease. With this test, the patient’s sleep signals are measured by means of electrodes placed on the scalp. This test measures the movement of the brain, muscles, and eyes. In addition, this test also monitors the patient’s breathing dynamics. The last test applied to the patients will be the multiple sleep latency test, which measures the time they fall asleep. For this test, the patient is asked to sleep at intervals of one to two hours during the day. With this stage, it is observed how long it takes the patient to fall asleep. As a result of all these tests, it is possible to diagnose the patient with narcolepsy.
What are the treatment methods for the disease?
One of the most curious subjects about the disease is whether there is a cure for narcolepsy! There is no permanent treatment method for narcolepsy yet. However, some medications may be prescribed by doctors to alleviate the symptoms of the disease. Sodium oxybate is one of the drugs used in the treatment of narcolepsy to soothe drowsiness and prevent sleep attacks. In addition, antidepressant drugs also help patients control their symptoms. However, we would like to remind you that these drugs should be used under the supervision of a doctor. Because high blood pressure and changes in heart rhythm can have a negative effect on some patients. It is important to be re-examined in the later stages of treatment. Depending on the course of the disease, there may be changes in the doses of the drugs under expert control.
Above all, people need to learn to live with narcolepsy, as the disease unfortunately has no definitive solution. Planning their daily lives accordingly will be a step that makes the life of patients easier. The patient’s 20-minute short sleep routines during the day can prevent chronic seizures. Exercising 4 hours before sleeping at night also helps people with narcolepsy to have a more comfortable sleep. Alcohol and cigarette consumption should not be done before going to sleep. It is important to establish a sleep pattern. Narcolepsy patients should take care to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day of the week. The support of the patient in this process also makes the life of the person significantly easier.