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Living With Narcolepsy and Cataplexy

Story at-a-glance -

  • People with narcolepsy experience extreme sleepiness and, often, related conditions such as cataplexy, the sudden loss of voluntary muscle control that’s frequently brought on by strong emotions
  • Narcolepsy involves the loss of hypocretin-producing neurons, which are involved in helping people to stay awake
  • It’s thought narcolepsy may have an autoimmune component, with a key exposure — to a flu virus, streptococcus (strep) bacteria or vaccination — acting as the tipping point that triggers the autoimmune reaction that destroys the hypocretin neurons
  • Lifestyle strategies, including napping, exercise, support groups and following a ketogenic diet, may help make narcolepsy and cataplexy symptoms more manageable

By Dr. Mercola

It’s estimated that up to 200,000 Americans have narcolepsy, a disorder that involves the loss of hypocretin-producing neurons. Hypocretin, also known as orexin, is a neuropeptide hormone involved in helping people stay awake; without it, people with narcolepsy experience extreme sleepiness and, often, related conditions such as cataplexy, the sudden loss of voluntary muscle control that’s frequently brought on by strong emotions.


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