Narcolepsy Treatments: Combination of Several Approaches

As odd this may sound, there is wide-spread ignorance about not just what narcolepsy is all about but more importantly, about narcolepsy treatments. This is despite the fact that close to 200,000 adults in the US are affected by this disabling sleep disorder.

Every time we fall sick, we want to be treated fast. The same rush is common when it concerns narcolepsy treatments as well. Unfortunately, treating this disorder is not very easy. By far an untreatable condition, doctors attempt to minimize the severity of the symptoms by administering narcolepsy drugs along with certain lifestyle modifications as well as several self-help strategies.

The following information is aimed to better your understanding about said sleep problem.

What exactly is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a kind of sleep disorder caused primarily because of neurological dysfunction – when the brain is no longer able to monitor the normal sleep-wake cycles. The ruling sign of this disorder is excessive daytime sleepiness that usually pushes the patient to seek treatment.

Four warning signs

A typical narcoleptic patient would experience recurrent daytime sleep attacks and would normally have disturbed sleep marred further by frequent waking. The early signs of this disorder show up between 15 and 30 years of age.

Though only a quarter of patients display all the characteristics of the disorder, narcolepsy onset is usually accompanied by four typical symptoms:
1. Excessive daytime sleepiness, experienced by close to 90% patients is the biggest indicator of this sleep disorder.
2. Cataplexy attacks are the next common characteristic trait. These attacks are caused by sudden loss of muscle tone and results in jaw dropping, dropping of hand-held objects, weakening of knees, etc.
3. Some patients experience sleep paralysis that disables them from moving or talking as they wake up.
4. Hallucinations are vivid dreams or nightmares, which some patients are known to have, with the onset of the disorder.

Narcolepsy symptoms: confusion with persistent daytime hypersomnolence and sleep apnea symptoms

Excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the common symptoms, but shared between several types of sleep disorders resulting in misdiagnosis and confusion. For example, it is common with patients of sleep apnea (more about sleep apnea here:, though it is a secondary symptom and sleep apnea sets in later in life, when the patient is 40 and above. On the other hand, narcolepsy sets in earlier.

One of the most rarely reported and poorly diagnosed sleep disorders is hypersomnolence where excessive daytime sleepiness is a ruling symptom, though snoring, and disturbed sleep is also common with this disorder.

Reasons for the onset

While the exact causes are not known, factors that could be responsible for causing narcolepsy include hypocretin deficiency, hereditary factors, malfunctioning of central nervous system, rheumatoid arthritis etc.

Treating the disorder: tough all the way

Drugs are not enough to treat this difficult condition though medication aims to increase daytime alertness and reduce other associated distresses of the disorder. To bring appropriate relief to the patient, doctors therefore take help from other therapeutic measures as well including self-help, lifestyle modifications and counseling for family and friends.

Some of the self-help strategies in narcolepsy treatments are keeping strict sleep schedules, practicing relaxation, bettering sleep hygiene, routine daytime naps, reducing stress, weight loss etc.

Looking to find more details on narcolepsy symptoms and causes? Visit Marc Macdonald’s site to gain more insight on the disorder. Know the facts to learn your best treatment for narcolepsy.

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