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Narcolepsy

Definition

Narcolepsy is a disorder of the nervous system. It results in frequent, involuntary episodes of sleep during the day. Sleep attacks can occur while you drive, talk, or work.

Causes

The cause is unknown. It is thought to have a genetic link. There is increasing evidence that it may be an autoimmune disorder. In this type of disorder, the body’s own immune system attacks a part of the brain.

Risk Factors

Having family members with narcolepsy is a risk factor for the condition.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually start during the teenage years. Onset may range from 5-50 years old. Symptoms may worsen with age. They may improve in women after menopause.
Symptoms include:
Brainstem—Area of Brain Related to Alertness
GM00010 97870 brainstem.jpg
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Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If narcolepsy is suspected, you may be referred to a specialist in sleep disorders.
Tests may include:

Treatment

Treatment may include:
Other treatment options include:

Prevention

There are no guidelines to prevent narcolepsy. But, you can try to prevent symptoms by:

RESOURCES

Narcolepsy Network http://www.narcolepsynetwork.org

National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Better Sleep Council of Canada http://www.bettersleep.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Bhat A, El Sohl AA. Management of narcolepsy. Expert Opin Pharmacotherapy. 2008;9(10):1721-1733.

Dauvilliers Y, Arnulf I, et al. Narcolepsy with cataplexy. Lancet. 2007;369:499-511.

Feldman NT. Narcolepsy. Southern Medical Journal. 2003;96:277-282.

Narcolepsy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 18, 2014. Accessed June 3, 2015.

Narcolepsy fact sheet. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/narcolepsy/detail%5Fnarcolepsy.htm. Updated January 5, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.

Narcolepsy: new understanding of irresistible sleep. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2001.

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