Monday, 12 May 2008

Narcolepsy - Symptoms and Causes

Many people feel tired a lot, however for some this tiredness is pretty extreme in that they will fall asleep at all varying times of the day. It doesn’t matter what they are doing, they will simply fall asleep without warning. They could be in the middle of a conversation or even washing the dishes. If these are symptoms that you can identify with then the chances are that you have a condition called narcolepsy. Some people who don’t know what it’s like to have narcolepsy will think that these sufferers are simply just lazy or haven’t had sufficient sleep so narcolepsy sufferers might possibly find themselves with little sympathy. However hopefully you will have people around you who will understand and give you’re the support that you might find yourself needing. Narcolepsy is a very real condition and can actually give sufferers a fright because of their unpredictable sleeping habits.

Normally you will find that the symptoms of narcolepsy occur in those people who are between the ages of 10 and 25. It’s very rare that the onset of narcolepsy will occur once someone is over the age of 40.

The most obvious symptom displayed by a narcolepsy sufferer is general tiredness all day. It doesn’t matter at all how much sleep is enjoyed at night, the persistent tiredness during the day just never seems to leave. This naturally has a great affect on concentration levels and it’s very difficult to get the energy to carry out all the tasks that need to be done during the day. These types of symptoms are regularly experienced by people with other health conditions too. However what makes narcolepsy different is that the person will suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times.

The seriousness of narcolepsy is the fact that people cannot control when the fall asleep and it’s impossible to prevent when this will happen. Basically this means that if someone with narcolepsy is going to have a sudden attack, they don’t have any warning and therefore cannot find a suitable place to sit or lie down. This might seem funny however it makes things very dangerous if that person is operating heavy machinery or driving a car. You can only imagine the problems that could result in this happening.

When an attack of narcolepsy strikes this time spent asleep can range anywhere from between just a few minutes to as long as half an hour or maybe even longer. The attacks can even happen a number of times in one day. When asleep some people can actually continue doing what activity they were doing but the quality of their task is greatly reduced. When they have awoken they won’t have any idea what just happened.

Another symptom that can occur for a 75% of narcolepsy sufferer is cataplexy. This is when you cannot control your muscles properly and you might even lose the ability to speak as well as you should. A patient might find that they experience such symptoms daily whilst others will hardly have this problem at all. Quite often the problem occurs when there is a change in a persons emotions, for instance they might witness something very funny on TV or become enraged by something.

Paralysis can also happen, normally this occurs when you are having an REM sleep however in narcolepsy sufferers this will happen when awake. The sufferer will know that this is happening but unable to do anything about it. This can be very scary as you might be able to imagine.

It’s difficult to say why someone will suffer from narcolepsy however it is thought to be associated with genetics. It is also linked to having a very low count of a particular brain chemical called hypo cretin which regulates sleep. In some people this chemical might even be absent completely.

No comments: