Frequently Asked Questions About Narcolepsy

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  • Narcolepsy is often misunderstood as laziness and lack of motivation, but it is actually a neurological condition that can impair a person’s ability to focus and control their sleeping pattern
  • Because of the hazards it can cause when driving or working, narcolepsy can pose serious threats to your safety and the safety of the people around you

Q: Is narcolepsy real?

A: Yes. Narcolepsy is often misunderstood as laziness and lack of motivation, but it is actually a neurological condition that can impair a person's ability to focus and control their sleeping pattern. It is caused by the absence of a neuropeptide in the brain, which alters the body's perception of wakefulness and alertness. Narcolepsy affects about 200,000 people in the United States alone, with only 25 percent properly diagnosed and getting proper treatment.1

Q: How do you get narcolepsy?

A: There is no clear-cut way on how you can get narcolepsy, but some of the potential triggers or risk factors include autoimmunity and genetics. However, secondary narcolepsy has been observed to be caused by physical brain trauma and the administration of influenza vaccines.

Q: Why does narcolepsy happen?

A: Narcolepsy happens because of the imbalance in the hypocretin levels in the brain. Hypocretin is a neuropeptide responsible for alertness and other body states. Unfortunately, the cause of this imbalance has not yet been determined by experts.2

Q: Is narcolepsy hereditary?

A: People who have relatives with narcolepsy have a higher risk of contracting this sleep disorder. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they will automatically develop narcolepsy at a later time. Experts have also suggested that a dormant case of narcolepsy in these individuals may be triggered by infections, trauma and injuries.3

Q: What are the symptoms of narcolepsy?

A: The primary symptom of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness. This can be accompanied by nighttime wakefulness, muscle weakness, sleep paralysis and hallucinations. Cataplexy can also be observed, which refers to the sudden loss of muscle control during stressful or emotional events.

Q: Is narcolepsy a disability?

A: Yes. Severe cases of narcolepsy can drastically affect a person's quality of life, personal relationships and their work life. The constant drowsiness and unanticipated cataplexy attacks can keep narcoleptics from functioning normally. Because of this, it is highly recommended that employers and workmates are made aware of this condition to avoid mishaps and accidents in the workplace.4

However, when applying for disability benefits, a thorough examination is required to determine the extent that your narcolepsy is hindering you from working normally.5

Q: How is narcolepsy diagnosed?

A: There are various self-assessment questionnaires and clinical tests that can help in the diagnosis of narcolepsy. The tests include an overnight stay in a sleep clinic to measure your brain activity, breathing patterns and other factors related to sleep. Spinal fluid can also be extracted from the patient to determine the hypocretin levels in the brain.6

Q: Is having narcolepsy dangerous?

A: Because of the hazards it can cause when driving or working, narcolepsy can pose serious threats to your safety and the safety of the people around you. Driving and operating heavy machinery may be hazardous for narcolepsy patients because of the high risk of losing control during sleep attacks or cataplexy episodes.7

Q: Can you cure narcolepsy?

A: There is no known cure for narcolepsy. However, there are various medications and techniques that can help lessen the severity of its symptoms. Lifestyle changes can also be employed to help you deal with the consequences of having narcolepsy.

Q: How do you prevent narcolepsy?

A: You can prevent secondary narcolepsy by avoiding exposure to certain vaccines and toxins linked to its development. You can also steer clear of it by avoiding activities that can put you at risk of brain injuries. On the other hand, preventive measures for idiopathic narcolepsy have not yet been determined.

Q: Can narcolepsy affect learning and development in children?

A: Yes, it can. Constant drowsiness in school can affect the learning ability of a child because of the challenges it poses on focus, attention and even memory. But while narcolepsy can affect these factors, the intelligence of the child is not diminished in any way. To assist a child with narcolepsy, teachers and school officials should be informed of the child's condition. Special educational plans and aids can help these children to succeed in school.8


MORE ABOUT NARCOLEPSY

Narcolepsy: Introduction

What Is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy Symptoms

Narcolepsy Causes

Narcolepsy Test

Narcolepsy Treatment

Narcolepsy Prevention

Narcolepsy Diet

Narcolepsy FAQ

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