Primary or Idiopathic Hypersomnia: How They Treat This ‘Rare’ Disorder

Perhaps the most tragic side to primary and idiopathic hypersomnia is that it strikes when one is getting ready to start the journey of life – between 15 and 30 years of age. The next bad news is that the condition responds very poorly to any kind of therapy, tending to remain a lifelong illness.

Another disturbing aspect of this disorder is its manifestation. One of the leading symptoms is too much sleeping during the day, a sign most people choose to ignore. It is a general idea that excessive sleepiness ought to be a sign of over-exhaustion or lack of good sleep the night before.

Officially declared as a ‘rare disease’ by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 5% of the U.S. population is affected by hypersomnia or hypersomnolence. The terms primary and idiopathic are one and the same; the latter means ‘no known cause’ – this means that all treatments are geared to provide symptomatic relief to the patient.

What exactly is this sleep disorder?

The medical term for excessive daytime sleepiness is hypersomnolence and the name of the condition is hypersomnia. There are two types of this health condition: primary or idiopathic, and the other is recurrent.

Symptoms to look out for

While persistent daytime sleeping remains one of the most identifiable symptoms, other common signs of this illness include: need for recurrent daytime naps that are non-refreshing; unusually long sleeping hours extending beyond 10 hours; irritability and depression; hallucinations; impaired speech; confused thinking; low appetite; concentration problems and forgetfulness.

How do they treat this disorder?

A single therapeutic approach normally would not work with patients with persistent daytime sleep problems. This is the reason why doctors consider a multi-prong initiative in the treatments of the condition that include counseling of family and friends as one of the main inputs. Once people close to the patient appreciates the various aspects of the illness, the patient finds it easier to cope.

Treatments related to self-help include doing physical workouts, sleeping at regular hours, quitting alcohol and other psychoactive substances, doing relaxation exercises like yoga, deep breathing, etc.

Treatments can also be done with the help of following drugs: (1) Modafinil, sodium oxybate, amphetamine, methamphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate, and selegiline; (2) Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), clonidine, levodopa, bromocriptine, amantadine, and methysergide

The take-home message

One of the sad truths about illnesses is that no matter how ‘rare’ they are, there are always chances that one of them may strike without notice and that also at the prime on one’s life. While primary or idiopathic hypersomnia responds very poorly to treatment, a patient can expect significant improvement in his or her condition, if the illness is diagnosed properly and treatments sought early.

Looking to find the best cures for your idiopathic hypersomnia? Then visit Marc Macdonald’s site to get the best advice on Hypersomnolence or Hypersomnia. Cheers for great mornings!

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