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The Symptoms Of Narcolepsy

Dec 6, 2007
How do you know if you are suffering from Narcolepsy? Actually, Narcolepsy is not a very common condition. Most sufferers of narcolepsy are diagnosed with the condition only after 10-15 years of suffering the first symptoms. This long lag-time is attributed to many factors including its rarity as a condition, subtle and varying symptoms plus the lack of familiarity that the public has with this condition. Still, there are symptoms that will develop and, even if you would not normally recognize them, you can become familiar with them now and thereby recognize this in someone who suffers from this distinct neurological disorder.

According to medical researchers, diagnosis and treatment of narcolepsy can be determined from a clinical examination and exhaustive medical history of the patient. Although excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS is the most common narcoleptic symptom, it can also be diagnosed as a symptom of other sleep related disorder such as sleep apnea, a virus, a bacterial infection, depression, congestive heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis. Consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can also lead to EDS so it is not likely to be Narcolepsy in most cases. This lack of specificity in the narcolepsy symptoms increases the difficulty to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Thus, a battery of specialized tests is usually required before a near-accurate diagnosis can be established.

People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) which is usually the most common among all other symptoms. Generally, EDS is experienced to interfere in any normal activities on a daily basis. Patients describe EDS as a persistent mental cloudiness and a depressed mood. Many confess that they have great difficulty concentrating while at school or at work. They also experience memory lapses and some find it impossible to remain alert in passive situations such as watching television. As much as 40 percent of narcolepsy patients are prone to automatic behavior called "microsleeps". From the word itself, micro meaning very small, refers to the sudden automatic sleeping of the patient. It can happen while performing any task whatsoever.

Another very frightening symptom is called cataplexy, which is characterized by a sudden loss of muscle tone which leads to feeling weak. It is associated with the loss of voluntary muscle control. In 10 percent of all reported narcolepsy cases, this symptom is noted to be one of the first few symptoms to appear. It is oftentimes misdiagnosed as a manifestation of another type of disorder which is not narcolepsy. The attack of cataplexy among patients varies in the duration and severity of the condition. The loss of muscle control by a limited number of muscles, such as drooping of the eyelids, results from a somewhat mild case. A complete loss of muscle control is also possible and in those cases a total physical collapse makes it impossible for the patient to move, keep their eyes open or speak. This is the result of severe symptomatic attacks.

Sleep paralysis is associated with a temporary inability to move or speak while you are falling asleep or even after you have awakened. This is usually unnoticeable because it occurs only while you are asleep and entering the rapid eye movement stage (REM). Experiencing sleep paralysis, again, is like going through a cataleptic attack which affects the whole body. Cataplexy and sleep paralysis are both frightening experiences especially when first experienced. It is understandable to fear these symptoms. In fact, many patients fear that they may become permanently paralyzed. This, however, is only part of the initial reaction. People who seek medical attention have always been able to attain a rapid recovery.

Lastly, the symptom commonly referred to as hypnagogic hallucinations are delusional experiences and are also very frightening. Most of the time, the content of these hallucinations are purely visual but any of the other senses may be involved. If you suffer from these same symptoms, seek medical advice right away! Do not let yourself be frightened by these unusual symptoms as that may lead you to having an unhealthy and inactive lifestyle. All of us must be extra cautious about this disorder as it develops early in life, but we should not allow ourselves to become paralyzed by them. An ounce of prevention will go a long way.
About the Author
Over 70 Million people in the USA suffer from some kind of Sleep Disorder! There are actually hundreds of ways to improve your sleep but the first thing that is needed is to raise more awareness! If you want to sleep better tonight , you can visit this information Sleep Aid Web Site that is packed with FREE information: http://www.Sleep-Aid-Solutions.com
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