Narcolepsy is a common sleeping disorder; while it is a lifelong condition certain narcolepsy treatment is available to help people cope with the disorder. This neurological condition affects the part of the brain that controls sleeping. This causes people who suffer from this condition to sleep at inappropriate places and times. While sleeping in a date will not have any major consequence, if one sleeps while driving or cooking it may result in harm to oneself and people in the near area.
The first step to find the perfect narcolepsy treatment is to identify the various narcolepsy symptoms.
The Various Narcolepsy Symptoms:
Someone with narcolepsy can fall asleep abruptly anywhere like this man in the office while working.
Narcolepsy affects various people of all ages; different people express or show different narcolepsy symptoms such as:
Excessive sleeping during the day: This is the most common of all the narcolepsy symptoms. Most narcoleptics tend to have the sleep attacks during the daytime, causing their brains to send the wrong signals thereby causing one to sleep at odd times and places.
Rapid entry into REM sleep: Most narcoleptics tend to enter into the dream stage of sleep as soon as they are asleep. It takes a normal human being up to 90 minutes to enter the dream stage.
Hallucinations: This symptom is rare when compared to the other narcolepsy symptoms. Sometimes narcoleptics experience vivid and at times frightening visual and auditory sensations in short hallucinations.
Paralysis: Most narcoleptics cannot move their muscles during the start or end of sleep.
Insomnia: Many narcoleptics have trouble sleeping at night-time; this is accompanied by excessive sleep during the day. This sometimes causes doctors to diagnose narcoleptics with insomnia, since usually this is the only symptom which is seen.
Identification of the symptoms will allow for easy narcolepsy diagnosis and narcolepsy treatment. It is in your best interest to collect as much information as possible in order to help your doctor to help you in the fastest possible way.
The Different Narcolepsy Diagnosis Techniques:
Your doctor must diagnose narcolepsy correctly and then suggest a proper narcolepsy treatment based on the different narcolepsy symptoms.
Various symptoms of this disorder can be caused due to a variety of other conditions and diseases thus making narcolepsy diagnosis extremely hard. Often, narcolepsy remains undiagnosed for many years due to the lack of symptoms or misdiagnosis.
Once all the symptoms are shared, if the doctor thinks one is suffering from narcolepsy he or she will suggest a sleep test.
Polysomnogram or PSG is the first diagnostic test. It will allow the sleep specialist to monitor the brain activity, heart rate, eye movements and blood pressure at different times. Using the results the doctor will determine if one has symptoms of narcolepsy such as entering REM sleep early, if one wakes up at odd times in the night.
This is usually followed by a Multiple Sleep Latency Test or MSLT. In this test the patient is asked to sleep for a period of 20 minutes every 2 hours. This will allow the doctor to confirm if excessive daytime sleeping is present.
Additionally a Hypocretin Test will be done. Hypocretin is a chemical which plays an important role in wakefulness. Narcoleptics usually have low levels of Hypocretin in their spinal cord fluid. Usually a lumbar puncture will be done to confirm low levels of the chemical.
Once these tests are done, it will allow for easy narcolepsy diagnosis and subsequent narcolepsy treatment.
Narcolepsy Treatment- The Various Types:
Currently counselling, medication and lifestyle changes are used in combination as a narcolepsy treatment. These treatments while not curing the condition permanently will control the various symptoms thus allowing one to enjoy a full and free life.
Narcoleptics must avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine in all forms since they tend to interfere with one’s ability to sleep properly.
To schedule sleep periods during the day. In short narcoleptics must take a few pre planned naps for up to 20 minutes every day to ensure not sleep at awkward times.
Talk to friends, employers and co-workers to ensure optimum help will be provided when needed.
Regular exercise, since it will cause one to be alert during the day and sleep during the night.
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet with all major food groups.
Stimulants: Stimulants that promote wakefulness and alertness are usually prescribed to narcoleptics.
Sodium Oxybate: It is a powerful drug used when narcoleptics suffer from severe cataplexy.
Anti Depressants: Sometimes they are prescribed to suppress REM sleep and remove symptoms such as hallucinations and paralysis.
Counselling and Support Groups:
Sleeping at awkward times and places may be embarrassing or even cause depression, thus it is a must to join support groups and regularly visit a psychologist for professional counselling and help.
When the above treatments are used in unison, it creates a powerful narcolepsy treatment which will allow narcoleptics to live a happy and relatively normal life.